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Minot zoo to observe World Okapi Day

Submitted Photo Akili, a male okapi, has been a resident of Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo since September 2017. World Okapi Day is being observed at the zoo on Friday.

When Akili, a male okapi, arrived at Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot in September 2017, the zoo became one of about 30 Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos with an okapi, said Jennifer Kleen, Minot Zoo Crew executive director.

Okapis are most closely related to the giraffe.

On Friday, the zoo will observe World Okapi Day. Kleen said indoor coloring activities will be held for children from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

World Okapi Day is the day designated for people around the world to help bring awareness to the okapi, a solitary animal native to the Congo.

The okapi is a respected cultural symbol of Congo in Africa, the only country in which it is found. There, its livelihood is “threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal gold mining and bushmeat poaching, despite its protected status since 1993,” according to the Okapi Conservation Project.

The Minot zoo’s involvement in World Okapi Day includes sponsoring the village of Wamba near the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This year the Minot zoo invested $3,000 of conservation money to the village to be used to support their school programs and promote awareness of the okapi species, Kleen said.

The Minot zoo is one of six zoos sponsoring villages.

Roosevelt Park Zoo began its winter hours on Sept. 30. The zoo now is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

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