What an exciting day for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!!! Yes, you read that correctly – LODGE, not PARK!! Today is the very first annual World Okapi Day. To mark the celebration, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has welcomed a brand new okapi calf to the savanna family!
FIRST ANNUAL WORLD OKAPI DAY
The press release from Walt Disney World News reads:
In honor of World Okapi Day, Walt Disney World Resort today announced the birth of an okapi at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The calf was born Oct. 1, 2018, and weighed 54 pounds. Born to mother Zelda and father Mandazi, the calf was up and mobile within the first hour of his birth. He will remain in a backstage habitat for the next several months before joining the animals on the savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Africa-inspired resort hotel at Walt Disney World. During that time, keepers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will observe the okapi, ensuring he bonds with his mother, nurses properly and attains all significant maturation milestones.
The calf’s parents were chosen to breed through the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and ensures responsible breeding of threatened and endangered species. Okapis are an endangered species found in rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Known as the “ghosts of the forest,” okapis are reclusive and, thus, rarely encountered in the wild; the species was not discovered until 1901. There are an estimated 20,000 okapi in the world, and their population continues to decline due to poaching and habitat loss from commercial logging and mining.
The Walt Disney Company, through the Disney Conservation Fund and its involvement in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan, has been at the forefront of okapi conservation for many years. The company has a long-standing relationship with the Okapi Conservation Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Okapi Conservation Project created World Okapi Day to generate awareness for this rare and endangered mammal. Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge may gaze out on a savanna featuring more than 30 species of African wildlife, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles and more. To learn more about okapis and other animals at Walt Disney World Resort, visit DisneyAnimals.com. For more information on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or to make a reservation, visit WaltDisneyWorld.com.
SUCH EXCITING NEWS!
So, attention all those who have plans to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in the coming months! You may just have the magical pleasure of catching a glimpse of the little guy when he finally roams the savanna.
What an amazing announcement to make on such a day as this! The okapi are one of my favorite animals to see whether I’m visiting the resort or theme park. They are such beautiful creatures! It will be quite the memorable moment to see this little one face to face.
Furthermore, kudos to Walt Disney Company for their involvement in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan. This is truly a day for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to celebrate!
For more information on the Okapi and to see a video of the little guy taking his first steps, visit Disney Parks Blog.
**all photos courtesy of Walt Disney World News
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