The New Orleans and San Diego zoo organizations have come together to breed endangered species. Asili, an okapi is one of these endangered species and she is now pregnant.
“It’s a very big deal” in the zoo world, according to Michelle Hatwood, General Curator at the Audubon Nature Institute’s Species Survival Center in Algiers.
“She’s doing great, she’s huge,” Hatwood said. “She’s already a big female, so now she’s got this big belly on her.”
The okapi, also known as the giant pandas of the hoofed-stock world, is an endangered species from Central Africa. Asili, who looks like a horse and zebra came together, lives on a 1,200-acre site along the Mississippi that Audubon leases from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The 1,200 acres are used by both Audubon and San Diego Wildlife Alliance to allow these endangered species to live and roam. So far, they have produced 52 mammals that were eight different species and 83 birds from six different species.
The main goal is to breed these animals for zoo populations but the bongo has been successfully re-established in the wild. The Bongo is a highly endangered species that lives in Central Africa. They are now trying to re-establish the whooping cranes which became extinct in Lousiana years ago. So far Audubon is slowly adding the bird back into the wildlife population around Lake Charles.
“If we don’t step up, who is going to?” said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute president and CEO. “This alliance is going to make a difference.”