Zoo used Okapi milk to help determine newborn calf’s arrival
TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The animal care and veterinarian teams at ZooTampa at Lowry Park have welcomed the birth of an endangered okapi calf. Okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) are the only living relative of the giraffe and are found in the remote forests of central Africa. The calf was born to parents Betty and Zach who arrived at the zoo in 2006 and are part of the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums designed to help save endangered wildlife. The okapi’s birth draws much-needed attention to a shy animal in desperate need of saving.
“As a natural defense against predators, okapi mothers hide their calves away in nests. The calf will spend its time in the nest leaving only to nurse,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. “While guests eagerly await the calf to venture out into its habitat, we’ll post updates with pictures and videos on social media to share her progress.”
These solitary chocolate brown animals with a face resembling a giraffe and zebra-like striped legs hide within the dense greenery of the Ituri Forest of Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict and their secretive lives makes studying them a challenge.
“Exact numbers are difficult to determine, but an estimated 10,000 – 35,000 live in the protected reserves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Massaro. “Unfortunately, their numbers continue to decline, due to human encroachment and hunting, making this an extremely important birth for ZooTampa and the Species Survival Plan to protect wildlife.”
Betty’s prenatal care included regular ultrasounds, a high energy diet and for the first time in this species, a milk-testing method found helpful in horses and rhinoceros to predict Betty’s calving date.
“By increasing Betty’s prenatal care, we saw physical changes that predicted calving,” Dr. Ray Ball, D.V.M., vice president of medical sciences and senior veterinarian at ZooTampa said. “This included a dramatic change in her mammary glands and her hindquarters getting softer in preparation for the birth. The milk sampling also allowed us to determine her milk was good quality and helped us evaluate Betty’s overall health.”
Although shy by nature, Betty is quite comfortable with zookeepers and allowed them to collect milk samples used in the testing. Zookeepers often build strong bonds with the animals they care for which enables higher quality of care for each individual animal.
At 2 years old, the age at which an okapi calf typically reaches maturity and naturally branches out on its own, the calf will likely move to a new home as part of the Species Survival Plan. ZooTampa participates in the Okapi Conservation Project, an international effort to protect the species from extinction, as part of its mission to protect and conserve endangered and threatened wildlife.
Link to photos and video: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bmrl1a5bvkkz5ba/AABOh1wPaAV9dUd69oYWSezKa?dl=0
CONTACT: ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Andrea Alava, Andrea.Alava@ZooTampa.org
SOURCE ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Great Rescues Day Book:
Portraits, Rescue Stories, Holidays and Events, Essential Feline Information, All in One Book
Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.
Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.
The portraits in this book, collected as a series, won both a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Annual Communication Contest, as well as the 22 Cats Notepaper mentioned below.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
Subscribe to my e-newsletter
Subscribe to The Creative Cat Preview E-newsletter.
© 2019 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
If you visit Rover.com and book services, I'll get a commission.
If you click this ad and set up an account, then make a purchase of at least $49.00 within 45 days, I'll get a commission.