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Baby Okapi At San Diego Safari Park Getting Bigger

Photo credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A 2-week-old okapi calf, Jackson, stays close to his mother, Ayana, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, July 22, 2014.

A 2-week-old okapi calf is walking and getting comfortable with his barn at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where he was born July 6.

Zoo officials said "Jackson" is staying close to his mother, Ayana, and has even begun to mimic some of her behaviors. While the young calf's primary source of nutrition is from nursing, he is curious about plants and has been mimicking Ayana and mouthing at vegetation as she forages.

Animal care staff said they monitor the calf's weight daily on a scale that Jackson walks onto with guidance from a keeper. This part of his training will help ensure he has a strong, trusting bond with animal care staff.

Weighing 57 pounds at birth, Jackson is now 80 pounds, a sign that he is getting enough nutrition from his mother, keepers said.

The okapi is an elusive animal and scientists did not know of the species until the early 20th century. They live in the dense, tropical mountain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though they look similar to a zebra, they are the closest living relative to the giraffe. A noticeable okapi characteristic is large ears, which allow them to hear low-frequency sounds below the audible range for humans.

According to the zoo, the secretive nature of the species makes it difficult to count them, but it's believed that about 25,000 exist in the wild.

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