Video from Chester Zoo
This is the moment an incredibly rare female okapi took her first wobbly steps after birth.
The calf, named Nia Nia, was born to mum K’tusha and dad Stomp following a 14 month pregnancy at Chester Zoo.
CCTV cameras captured the calf’s first wobbly steps as she was gently encouraged to her feet by mum, shortly after birth.
Now, the shy new arrival has stepped outside for the first time after spending the first few weeks of life snuggled up in a cosy nest.
Keepers are celebrating the birth, on 28 December, and say her arrival is a ‘vital’ boost to the endangered species breeding programme.
Okapis have been nicknamed the ‘African unicorn’ due to their shy and elusive nature - and are rarely seen in the wild.
Zookeepers have named the adorable youngster Nia Nia after a small village in the centre of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the only country in the world where okapis are found in the wild.
Sarah Roffe, Team Manager of the okapis at the zoo, said: "The birth of an okapi calf is cause for great celebration - they are incredibly rare and incredibly special.
"Mum K’Tusha is so far doing a wonderful job of caring for her new born. Watching her gently encourage her new baby to its feet in those precious moments shortly after her birth was a real privilege to see.
“Okapis are incredibly secretive animals and, for a little while following her birth, Nia Nia had not wanted to venture too far and had instead remained snuggled up in her cosy nest area, with mum returning to her every few hours to allow her to feed.
"But now she’s gaining in confidence every single day; she’s bouncing with energy and eager explore. She’s a joy to watch – she’s all ears and long, spindly legs!"
The okapi is the only known living relative of the giraffe and is the national symbol of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the species protected under Congolese law.
However, despite their protected status, the species is listed as endangered as numbers in the past two decades have declined by around 50% - a result of hunting for its meat and skin, habitat loss and civil unrest in the country.
OLAPI FACT FILE:
Okapis are one of the oldest mammals left on Earth
Despite its long existence, its discovery was only announced by scientists in 1901
The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe
Male okapis have short horns on their foreheads that are covered in skin and called ossicones
They have scent glands on each foot that leave behind a tar-like substance to mark their territory
They can lick their own ears! The okapi’s tongue measures between 14 and 18 inches long – that’s long enough to clean its ears and wash its eyelids