Brookfield Zoo welcomes okapi calf

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BROOKFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A baby okapi, also known as a forest giraffe, was born at Brookfield Zoo one month ago.

The baby, whose name is "Will," was born to 4-year-old August K., a first-time mom. He is currently off exhibit, but Will is visible through a live feed at the zoo's Habitat Africa! The Forest.

In the wild, a mother okapi would hide her baby in a nest and return only to nurse. Therefore, Will is spending his first few months in an indoor nesting area. Once he's a couple months older, zoo guests will get to see him explore his habitat.

Okapis are rare hoofed mammals native to the dense Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their population is shrinking due to several reasons, including habitat loss, human settlement, mining, war, political instability and the bush-meat trade. In 2013, a global conservation initiative was launched for the okapi and its closest relative: the giraffe.

Will is the 27th successful okapi born at Brookfield Zoo.