Oni the okapi, who featured in last week’s ITV documentary, London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year, has delighted zookeepers by giving birth to a healthy baby girl.
The second-time mum went into labour late on Sunday 20th September before giving birth to the adorable calf – given the name ‘Ede’ by zookeepers – the following morning.
Dedicated keepers kept a watchful eye overnight on CCTV as Oni went into labour, before tiny hooves and stripy legs began to emerge 12 hours later. The wide-eyed calf took its first wobbly steps within minutes and was tottering around confidently soon after.
ZSL okapi keeper Gemma Metcalf said: “Like all okapis, Oni had a long pregnancy – close to 16 months – so we’ve been excitedly waiting for Ede for a long time.
“As viewers saw last week, her lockdown pregnancy posed some logistical challenges for our team, but despite the Zoo being closed we remained by her side to make sure she had the highest standard of care throughout her third trimester – we’re delighted that both mother and baby are now doing so well.”
“Oni has always been a star in our eyes, but while she’s currently shining on screen she’s also excelling off-screen – at being a brilliant mum.
“Ede is already a feisty young calf and has been bouncing happily around the stables, but Oni is keeping her in their cosy indoor dens until she feels Ede is ready to explore their lush outdoor paddocks – we can’t wait for our visitors to see the newest addition to the zoo family.”
Okapi can only be found in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The species is classified as endangered by the ICUN, with their survival threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Ede’s birth is important for the global breeding programme, which ensures a healthy population of okapi in zoos across the world.
Episode 1 of London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year is available to watch on the ITV Hub now, with episode 2 due to air on ITV at 9pm this Thursday 1st October.
For information on visiting ZSL London Zoo go to www.zsl.org
Main image: Ede and Oni – ZSL London Zoo