A BABY Okapi has celebrated its first birthday at the Wild Place Project in Easter Compton by tucking into her favourite treat – red roses.
Ruby is one of five Okapi at the attraction, with her birth last year being a significant boost to the breeding programme for the endangered species, with only 15 in captivity in the UK.
Keeper Anna Head, who has looked after Ruby since she was born, gave her the roses to mark the occasion.
Named after her father Rubani, who died five months before her birth, Ruby had a dramatic start to life after being born backwards with a leg becoming stuck during delivery, preventing mother Kibibi from having a natural birth, with vests and keepers having to intervene to help.
Still a year from being fully grown, Ruby now weighs 140kg, ten times her birth weight.
Wild Place animal manager, Will Walker, said: “It has been great to watch Ruby grow up and flourish.
“She is now totally independent and weaned from her mother, but she still lives with her as she would in the wild.
“Eventually Ruby will move to another animal collection to continue the breeding programme for this very important species.”
In the 1960s Bristol Zoological Society was a founding member of the first ever okapi breeding programme in a European zoo during the 1960s.
The animals were moved from Bristol Zoo Gardens to Wild Place Project when it opened in 2013, with a total of 41 calves have been born at both sites over the years.
Mr Walker added: “We have always taken a very active role in the European Endangered Species Program to increase okapi numbers and raise awareness of the threats they face in the wild. Our continued success at breeding this species further demonstrates the role of modern zoos and wildlife parks in animal conservation.”
For more information about visiting Wild Place Project visit www.wildplace.org.uk or phone 0117 428 5600.