Okapi weekend at Wild Place Project

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A special weekend to raise awareness about the threat to the survival of okapis takes place at Wild Place Project

Okapi are the only living relative to giraffe and on both October 13 and 14 between 11am and 3pm there will be a range of events to celebrate these amazing animals.

There will be talks about the wildlife park’s five okapi and keepers will be handing out information leaflets about them.

Visitors will also get the chance to follow a special okapi quiz and trail around Wild Place Project during the two days.

There will also be a pin the tail on the okapi game and a raffle.

Keeper Anna Head said: “This weekend is all about raising awareness of the plight of okapi which are endangered and on the IUCN Red list of threatened species with just 15 okapi in captivity the UK. 

“But it is also about giving people the chance to learn more about these amazing animals and have some fun at the same time.”

The okapi at Wild Place Project include Ruby who was born there in May last year.

In the 1960s Bristol Zoological Society, which owns and runs Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens, was a founder member of the first ever okapi breeding programme in a European Zoo.

The success of the breeding programme was applied to other species by zoos across Europe and was used as an example to help safeguard the future of threatened and endangered animals in human care.

Okapi were moved from Bristol Zoo Gardens to Wild Place Project when it opened in 2013 and a total of 41 calves have been born at both sites over the years.

Okapi are the only living relative of the giraffe. The species was first encountered by Europeans in 1900 and described by scientists in 1901.

They are native only to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa where they are threatened by expansion of human settlement and forest degradation.

A major current threat is also the presence of illegal armed groups in and around the key protected areas for the species. 

Wild Place Project, which is just off junction 17 of the M5 motorway, opened four years ago and now attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year.

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