An Endangered Baby Okapi Was Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — See the Adorable Photos

He'll be making his public debut soon, but in the meantime we'll enjoy this charming footage of the baby calf.

Standing tall at over three feet and weighing just under 100 pounds, Beni the baby okapi was announced to the world this week after being born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando.

The endangered baby animal, which is native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was born in July to first-time mom Olivia who has been “nuzzling, nursing, and bonding” with her new calf backstage, according to Disney. In a video, baby Beni is adorable to watch with his goofy big ears and long nose as he gets kisses from mom and tests out his lanky striped legs (he’s very active for an okapi calf). 

“Our animal care team is monitoring Beni and making sure he hits all the milestones of a growing okapi,” Disney wrote on their website. “In the coming months, he’ll make his debut on the Pembe Savanna – you may even catch a glimpse of him if you’re staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!” 

Beni, who was named after a village in the DRC, is the twelfth okapi calf to be born at Walt Disney World Resort and the first since 2018, according to the company. Eventually, he could grow to 5 to 6 feet tall and up to 650 pounds.

Disney said Beni’s birth was recommended through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan. Okapis, which are closely related to giraffes, tend to live in rainforests and use their black and white striped legs to blend in among the trees. They are shy and tend to hide, earning them the nickname “ghosts of the forests.”

In total, there are estimated to be about 20,000 okapi in the world. But experts have said their populations may have been cut in half over the past two decades, according to National Geographic, with poaching and human-induced deforestation posing threats.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom features animals from all around the world, including gorillas and lions from Africa, Komodo dragons and tigers from Asia, as well as flamingos, otters, and more. The park has also seen several births throughout the years, like the baby porcupine and zebra that were born there in 2020 when the park was still closed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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