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Rare and endangered okapi born at Cincinnati Zoo

By Ashley R. Williams, CNN

(CNN) — A member of a rare and endangered species related to the giraffe was recently born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, according to zoo officials.

The okapi, which zoo officials announced as a boy, was born December 17 to its mother, Kuvua, and father, Kiloro, a news release stated.

“This is Kuvua’s fourth calf, and she is an amazing momma,” said Renee Carpenter, senior keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo, in the release. “She’s being attentive to the little one’s every need. The calf is strong and looks healthy. It’s also super soft and fuzzy.”

The mother and baby will continue bonding behind the scenes through winter, and visitors will get to see them in the zoo’s okapi yard come spring, according to zoo officials.

The young okapi marks the 18th born at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1989. There are approximately 15,000 okapis globally, the zoo estimates. Habitat destruction and poaching have harmed the species’ population.

Okapis are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The animals, native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, are the giraffe’s closest relative. The species share similar body structure, but okapis have shorter necks.

They’re also characterized by their reddish-brown color with horizontal black and white stripes on all four legs.

“These unique markings help the offspring follow their mothers through the dense forest,” the zoo’s release stated.

Okapis are able to grow up to 8 feet tall and can live up to 16 years, according to the zoo.

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