Disney’s Animal Kingdom is about more than just thrill rides and dinosaurs. Conservation and protecting endangered species is an important aspect as well. That’s why Disney Parks Blog was thrilled to introduce Elijah! The baby okapi can now be seen by the public. Here is all that you need to know.
Rare Baby Okapi Debuts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Elijah is the first baby okapi to make his debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since 2012! This marks the 14th birth of this endangered species at Walt Disney World, and we’re overjoyed to see our okapi family continue to grow. When he was born in October, Elijah weighed 46 pounds, with the most adorable, yet huge ears. Today, he’s an impressive 165 pounds and has officially joined his mom onstage on Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
Elijah’s birth, like many others in our park, is made possible with the help of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. This program ensures the responsible breeding of this endangered species and other species that face threats like poaching and habitat loss.
What makes Elijah so special is his name, which honors a 50-year cast member!
Cast member Elijah first joined the Magic Kingdom Park in June 1973 and transferred to the horticulture department at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it opened in 1998. He plays a critical role in maintaining the beautiful habitats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – from rhinos to okapi and everything in between – he creates environments that help ensure safety and promote enrichment for our animals at Walt Disney World. His passion and dedication to his role has made him a cherished cast member, and what better way to honor him than to name a rare okapi after him?
To learn more about okapi and our efforts to protect endangered and threatened species, visit DisneyAnimals.com.