A very special animal just made her grand debut! After a 14-month pregnancy (yes, 14 long, long, long months) new mom K’tusha the okapi gave birth to a baby girl at the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom.

If you’re not familiar with the okapi, that’s okay. The okapi is an unusual animal that lives in the rainforest regions of Central Africa. The only living relative of the giraffe, the okapi has the large, upright ears of its long-necked cousin—but white and black zebra-like stripes on its hindquarters.

The zoo’s staff names the young okapi Nia Nia, after the village at the center of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. This area, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the only place where this awesome animal lives naturally.

The new member of the Chester Zoo family took her first steps for the world to see recently. The zoo’s CCTV cameras caught Nia Nia in action, as she strolled outside with her doting mama.

Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said of the okapi, in a press release, “These gentle creatures have been heavily targeted by poachers in recent years, mainly as a result of the illegal bushmeat trade, which is growing across nearly all of its natural range – making conservation efforts to protect these animals really difficult…so not only is Nia Nia’s arrival an important moment for us, it’s an important moment for the species.”

Visit the Chester Zoo’s website here for more info on this amazing okapi.

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: Brian McGowan via Unsplash

 

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