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The Newest Star Has Stripes at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

by User Not Found | May 07, 2013
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is wild about moms, including one of the newest who lives at the Zoo: “Betty” an adult female okapi with a 4-month-old offspring, “Bahati”. At the Zoo's recent Karamu gala, the Emerick family of Tampa won the live auction opportunity to sponsor and name the calf. They selected a Swati name, Bahati, which means lucky. Bahati is just beginnning to emerge from the newborn "nesting phase", a hiding behavior common and in the wild, providing protection from predators. He has grown from 64 pounds at birth on January 6, to more than 283 pounds in April (gaining 10-15 pounds per week).

Okapi Calf “Bahati” Starting To Emerge, Just In Time For Mother’s Day

TAMPA, Fla. (May 7, 2013) — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is wild about moms, including one of the newest who lives at the Zoo: “Betty” an adult female okapi with a 4-month-old offspring, “Bahati”. At the Zoo's recent Karamu gala, the Emerick family of Tampa won the live auction opportunity to sponsor and name the calf. They selected a Swati name, Bahati, which means lucky. Bahati is just beginnning to emerge from the newborn "nesting phase", a hiding behavior common and in the wild, providing protection from predators. He has grown from 64 pounds at birth on January 6, to more than 283 pounds in April (gaining 10-15 pounds per week).

While both mom and calf have access to the main outdoor exhibit most afternoons, Bahati often chooses to stay on his nest while Betty wanders in and out. When the calf does decide to venture outside, he has been seen sprinting out of the barn to greet the sunshine, much to the delight of any guests within the Ituri Forest habitat area. Once outside, Bahati is very interested in wild birds and also the Marabou stork who shares the exhibit.

These large hoofed mammals are found in the rain forests of northern, central and eastern regions of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Okapis are listed as a threatened species, with continued loss of habitat and political unrest in their native region. The species is a shy and reclusive forest dweller and is the only living relative of the giraffe.

Okapis have a very unique color pattern -- reddish-brown, velvet-like coats with horizontal zebra-like striping on their hindquarters and legs. The body shape is similar to that of a giraffe, but with a much shorter neck.

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo provides annual support for to the Okapi Conservation Project founded to secure a protected area in the Ituri Forest region of the DRC for the okapi and other native species. The goals of the project are to train and equip wildlife guards to protect the area from poachers, provide community assistance to people living around the reserve, educate people about sustainable use, and provide care for a breeding group of okapi in the reserve.

The Zoo’s Ituri Forest area, which houses the okapi exhibit, was made possible by funding provided by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. The Zoo also acknowledges with gratitude the generous support of the L.V. Thompson Family Foundation in its sponsorship of the okapi exhibit.

DON’T FORGET Mother’s Day Weekend at the Zoo

May 11-12 • 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Moms matter at the Zoo! Bring your mom to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo on Mother’s Day weekend and she gets in for free! On Saturday, May 11 or Sunday, May 12, moms receive free admission with the purchase of their son’s or daughter’s full-priced admission ticket (paid ticket can be child or adult admission, as applicable). For moms to receive free ticket offer, the paid ticket must be purchased on May 11 or 12 only. Offer not combinable with other discounts.

  • Tampa Bay City Pass
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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