Welcome Akili the Okapi

Roosevelt Park Zoo is proud to announce the arrival of Akili, a 17-year-old male Okapi. Okapi is an endangered species according to the IUCN Red List. Now retired from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan conservation breeding program, RPZ is the 27th AZA accredited zoo in the county to have a habitat approved for Okapi. Here, Akili will be an ambassador promoting education and conservation for his species in the wild.

Akili is acclimating to his new home in a newly renovated habitat. He will not be on view for the public for several weeks. During that time, Akili will be inside bonding with RPZ Keepers and veterinarian Dr. Ann Olson will be monitoring his health during his quarantine period.

Okapi are solitary creatures native to the Congo and are most closely related to the giraffe. The Okapi species is one of the largest mammals most recently documented by scientists. According to the IUCN Red List, ‘Okapi have been undergoing a decline since at least 1995 that is ongoing and projected to continue, in the face of severe, intensifying threats and lack of effective conservation action which is hindered by the lack of security.’

We are proud of and grateful to Minot Park District staff who have worked tirelessly to complete our Okapi habitat. Maintenance staff led the renovation of the barn to safely accommodate a larger animal and include public winter viewing of the Okapi. Keepers painted the interior of the habitat to reflect the dark underbrush of the Congo and included several enrichment opportunities to encourage the Okapi’s natural browsing abilities. Forestry staff planted trees approved for the Okapi’s diet that will thrive in our North Dakota environment and they are exploring creative ways to protect the trees into maturity. Horticulture staff recycled the sod from Corbett Field prior to the turf transition making Akili’s home possibly the greenest in Minot. We appreciate the enthusiasm in our community leading up to his arrival and we look forward to being the forever home for our Okapi.

Hemker Heading for Texas

Our male Cotton-Topped Tamarin was matched for a breeding recommendation in San Antonio, Texas. We will miss Hemker and his often sour door-greeter face, but he will be doing the most good for his South American species further south from here. Fun fact: Hemker was named for Hemker Park & Zoo in Minnesota after all their help through the 2011 Mouse River Flood.

Mokolo Moves to Pennsylvania

Mokolo was born Christmas Day 2015, now big enough to leave his parents. Mokolo has moved to Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he joins a young bachelor group of giraffes. Best of luck, dear Mokolo.

Baby Goats Meet Our Visitors

Bickle, Andy & Spelch are outside every day now, barring bad weather. They’re borrowing the traditional goat pen while the goat bridge is under construction. Longtime RPZ goat resident Ernie is rooming with the sheep for a bit while the babies enjoy his jungle gym.

Glass Viewing for Red Pandas

Fred & George are close enough to touch with our new modern glass viewing feature. Glass makes the additional perimeter fence unnecessary so guests can be closer than ever during our red panda training sessions.

Caring for an Elderly Penguin

Spanky is 33-years-old. We’re doing our research before his June birthday, but we think he’s the oldest male penguin in the U.S. He sees an ophthalmologist for his aging eyes but overall, he’s in great health. With his advanced age, he is a bit more sensitive to quick increases in temperature. That’s why on Saturday, when the temperature jumped from 60-85 for the first time this season, we chose to keep him inside under veterinary care.

Goat Bridge Construction Begins

Community Rocks 2017 raised $25,000 to bring mini-goats to our Children’s Zoo. Designed by Anderson, Wade & Whitty – it will be A2 Customs taking the lead on bridge construction. Construction began the first week of May.