HOUSTON (KIAH)– The Houston Zoo has a new addition to the family this Summer! His name is Sylvester–an Okapi. The one-month old Okapi got the chance to meet our mayor, Sylvester Turner. His name, Sylvester, means “forest dweller” which is where Okapis can be found in their native land in Central Africa. The public will be happy to see that Sylvester is already starting to show his personality. Zoo keepers say that he has lots of spunk and is already double his birth weight.

Sylvester Turner & Baby Sylvester, the Okapi
Credit: Kevin Kendrick

Zoo guests can now visit Sylvester in the Okapi yard every day until noon as he continues to get comfortable with his surroundings. Sylvester was born on April 20 to his mom, Sukari and dad, Kwame and spent a few weeks bonding with his mom. Okapi moms use infrasonic communication with their babies, a sound that is below the range of human hearing. They can easily be mixed up with zebras because of their similar stripes. However, they are the only living distant relative of the giraffe. They are mostly identified by their large black tongue used for plucking buds, leaves and branches from trees. Their tongues can also reach their eyeballs!

Okapis are endangered species that can be found in the rainforests of Democratic Republic of Congo. By recycling devices such as cell phones, we can help save wild animals in Central Africa like the Okapi. Why? According to zoo staff, the metal tantalum is used in certain electronics can be destructively mined in Central African rainforests like destroying animal homes.

You can plan your visit to the zoo to visit Sylvester by going to houstonzoo.org.