Skip to content

Baby Okapi Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World

Beni the Okapi and mom

There must be something in the water at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge because another baby animal has been born recently…this time its an Okapi.

About Okapi

The okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, Congolese giraffe, or zebra giraffe, is an artiodactyl (an even number of functional toes on each foot) mammal that is native to the northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in central Africa.

Shy and reclusive, okapis are nearly impossible to spot in the wild and have earned the nickname “ghosts of the forests.” In fact, okapis were thought to be a myth until 1901 when they were first discovered by western scientists.

It is also the giraffe’s only living relative.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classifies the okapi as endangered as there are only an estimated 20,000 in the world. Major threats include habitat loss due to logging and human settlement.

Today is World Okapi Day, which has been held on October 18 each year since 2016.

Beni the Okapi and mom

Meet Beni

Named by the keeper team in honor of a town in DRC, Beni was born in July to mom Olivia, and he is the first Okapi calf to be born at Walt Disney World Resort since 2018.

Beni and his mom are currently in the backstage habitat where they spend time nuzzling, nursing, and bonding. The animal care team is monitoring Beni and making sure he hits all the milestones of a growing okapi.

They have plenty of experience: Beni is the twelfth okapi born at Walt Disney World Resort and the fifth at the lodge.

He currently weighs just under 100 pounds and stands a little over three feet tall from hoof to shoulder, but could eventually grow to between five and six feet tall and up to 650 pounds.

Beni the Okapi and mom

Beni’s birth was recommended through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which ensures responsible breeding of threatened species in managed care.

In addition to working with the AZA, Disney has provided long-term support to okapis in the DRC through the Okapi Conservation Project which works to protect wildlife, support communities, and provide conservation education opportunities on the importance of protecting the forest for people and okapi.

Disney says in the coming months, Beni will make his debut on the Pembe Savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Okapi can be found on the “Kilimanjaro Safaris,” and “Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail” inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well.

In addition to Beni, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has also recently welcomed a baby springbok and an addax calf.

Here is a short video about Beni. Isn’t he adorable?