A RARE mammal has been born at Marwell Zoo near Winchester.

The Okapi calf, named Dikembe, was born to mum Dumela and dad Shomari on Monday (July 14) as part of the European Endangered species breeding Programme (EEP).

His name originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo – the only place in the world where Okapis are found in the wild.

Ian Goodwin, collection manager of Hoofstock at Marwell Zoo said: “Our last Okapi birth was in 2008 so this arrival is a fantastic addition to Marwell and an important part of the EEP.

“This is Dumela’s first calf and she is doing very well. Dikembe will spend some time nesting while he builds strength and grows.

“Okapis are fascinating animals and are the only living relative to the giraffe. As well as a long neck, Okapis have reddish bodies with black and white striped legs and a 12 inch tongue which helps them to strip leaves and buds from trees. The tongue is also long enough for them to clean its eyelids and ears.”

These animals were only discovered around 100 years ago and are listed as listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List.

It is believed their natural habitat has been lost as a result of agriculture, human settlements and deforestation.