The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is sad to announce the passing of 15-year-old female okapi, Caroli.
Late last month, caretakers alerted veterinary staff when Caroli stopped eating and was lethargic. The Zoo’s vet team administered an exam and found her bowels were not moving. This means that the intestines had no normal contractions, an abnormal condition in hoofstock. Unfortunately, the gastrointestinal issues worsened the next day and additional treatment was not effective. Due to the severity of her condition, Caroli was humanely euthanized on Thursday, October 24.
Preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) reports indicate she was suffering from cecocolic torsion – twisting of the bowels and intestines. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums reports the median life expectancy for okapi in human care is 16.4 years.
Caroli arrived at the Zoo in 2005 and instantly became a favorite of both guests and caretakers. She has three offspring: Kikari, 9, who now resides at the Brookfield Zoo; Nia Stanley, 7, now at White Oak Conservation Center, and Kayin, 3, who remains at the OKC Zoo’s okapi habitat. The Zoo is also home to female okapi Mali, 27.
In 2016, Caroli underwent successful surgery on her knee due to torn cartilage in the joint. She recovered from that procedure and had treatment for arthritis in the joint.
Classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, okapi populations in the wild – estimated between 10,000 and 50,000 – are currently decreasing primarily because of habitat loss resulting from logging and human settlement. The presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas and poaching are also major threats. Round Up for Conservation supports the Okapi Conservation Project’s efforts in Africa.