cuteness alert!

Houston Zoo welcomes adorable new baby okapi to the herd

Houston Zoo welcomes adorable new baby okapi to the herd

Houston Zoo okapi baby newborn
The baby okapi was born at 3pm July 20.  Photo by John Register

In May, the Houston Zoo made cuteness alert headlines when it announced the birth of Nelson, the zoo’s baby elephant. Now, the zoo has revealed the newest member of its herd.

On July 20 at 3 pm, the zoo welcomed a baby okapi — or what’s known as a “forest giraffe.” The mother, a 13-year-old named Sukari, delivered the calf in the okapi yard; within the hour, the calf stood with help from mom, according to the zoo.

The calf’s gender has yet to be identified. Sukari and her newborn will spend a few weeks behind the scenes bonding before making their official debut, per the zoo.

Okapi are solitary animals and are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Since it was first discovered by the western world in 1901, the okapi has captivated animal lovers. Unlike its cousin the giraffe, the okapi is very rare and only found in the most remote rainforests of central Africa.

Meanwhile, the Houston Zoo is helping save okapi in the wild by providing support and equipment for local staff at the Okapi Conservation Project in the DRC. Locals can help the okapi by recycling cell phones at the zoo: phones contain a metal mined where okapi live; recycling the cell phones reduces the demand for new materials to be mined.