A rare ‘highly endangered’ giraffe zebra hybrid has been born at Chester Zoo

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 6th July 2023

A rare giraffe zebra hybrid has been born at Chester Zoo, and cameras have captured the adorable new calf venturing outside for the very first time.

Conservationists at the UK’s biggest charity zoo say they are “celebrating” the arrival of a new Okapi calf – which is a “highly endangered” rare animal, also known as the forest giraffe – named Arabi, who was born to mum K’tusha and dad Stomp a couple of months back on 12 May.

Only scientifically discovered in 1901, and often referred to as the ‘forest giraffe’ because the species is only living relative of the long-necked animal, okapis are known for the elusive nature, and live in the dense rainforests of their native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa – where it’s estimated that as few as 10,000 could remain.

The species is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Zookeepers say they chose to name the newborn Arabi after a village located in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the DRC.


Chester Zoo and its partners in the DRC have been working hard to support the last remaining populations of okapi.

Commercial logging, open-cast mining, agriculture, and human settlement has resulted in the loss of the okapi’s habitat in the wild, which conservationists say can limit their access to food and water sources.


The rare animals are sadly also hunted for their meat, while their skins are highly valued on the illegal wildlife trade.

Of the 14 okapi living in conservation zoos in the UK, six are being cared for by experts at Chester Zoo as part of the endangered species breeding programme.

Arabi’s arrival is a “vital” part of the global population, zookeepers say.


Since her arrival into the world, Arabi has since been snuggled up in a nest in a behind-the-scenes area at Chester Zoo but now, at just six-weeks-old, the leggy newcomer has decided to kick up her heels and take her first steps following some gentle encouragement from her mum – with the calf’s first steps being captured on camera and shared on social media.

“Since being born just six weeks ago, Arabi has been bonding closely with mum K’tusha while snuggled away in her nest,” explained Hannah Owens – an okapi keeper at Chester Zoo.

“Mum has been doing a fantastic job of feeding and nurturing her calf every day, and now that she has a little more confidence, Arabi decided it was time to explore the outside world.

“It didn’t take long before she was confidently stretching her legs in the sunshine.”

Okapi Calf
The zoo says the species is ‘highly endangered’ / Credit: Chester Zoo

Giving a little more insight into just how important Arabi’s birth is to her species, Hannah continued: “Okapis are one of the least known and understood species on the planet, so every birth is incredibly special indeed.


“This energetic little calf is already showing lots of personality.

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“It’s going to be a real privilege to watch her grow and become a vital part of the global population of her species.”

Featured Image – Chester Zoo