10 things to know about the OKC Zoo's rare new resident
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is welcoming a new member of its animal family: a 2-year-old male okapi named Bosomi (pronounced bo-som-ee).
Here's what you need to know about this rare new addition to the zoo with the funny name and looks:
1. The okapi (pronounced oh-kop-ee) is the only living relative of the giraffe and is native to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the wild, okapi are elusive and reclusive, known as “ghosts of the forest.” They have dark fur with white stripes on their hindquarters and front legs (sort of like zebras), and these markings provide camouflage in the dappled sunlight of the dense African rain forest.
2. Classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, okapi populations in the wild – estimated between 10,000 and 50,000 – are currently decreasing primarily because of habitat loss resulting from logging and human settlement. The presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas and poaching are also major threats.
3. Bosomi comes to the OKC Zoo from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, as part of a breeding recommendation for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Okapi Species Survival Plan. Bosomi has been matched with the OKC Zoo’s female okapi, Kayin, who is 5 years old.
4. According to his caretakers, Bosomi is settling in well. He enjoys ear rubs and has already begun sampling the various forms of vegetation found throughout his new habitat.
5. He also seems to be a promising match to Kayin: Shortly after arriving at the zoo, he was introduced to the female okapi. The pair immediately began demonstrating positive behaviors throughout the introduction process, such as chuffing at and smelling one another, according to a news release.
6. Here's how you can tell the couple apart: Bosomi is noticeably smaller than Kayin and will not reach adult size until approximately 3 years of age. Guests can also tell Bosomi apart from Kayin by his lighter coloring and the hair-covered horns, located at the top of his head, called ossicones.
7. The OKC Zoo has been home to okapi since 1973 and will get to re-launch its okapi breeding program with the addition of Bosomi to its animal family.
“We are delighted to welcome Bosomi and renew our commitment to okapi conservation through a successful breeding program,” said Tracey Dolphin, Curator of Hoofstock, in a statement. “The last okapi calf born at the OKC Zoo was Kayin back in 2015, so we are hopeful that we’ll be welcoming another okapi calf in the near future.”
8. The addition of Bosomi will ensure that Kayin is not living solo in OKC. The Oklahoma City Zoo in July announced the death of Mali, its other adult female okapi. At 27, Mali was the oldest female, zoo-born okapi in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo.
9. Want to help okapi in the wild? Guests can help conserve okapi by donating their used electronic devices at the OKC Zoo. Small electronics frequently contain coltan, and mining for this substance threatens the habitats of okapi and other endangered species. When individuals donate used phones or other electronics, the coltan from those devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound in okapi habitats.
While visiting the zoo, guests can also choose to Round Up for Conservation when purchasing items from gift shops or restaurants located throughout the zoo. Funds from Round Up for Conservation has been donated to the Okapi Conservation Project to help support the organization’s conservation efforts in Africa.
10. When can you see Bosomi and Kayin? The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and older. Children 2 and younger are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the OKC Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. To learn more, call 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.