Watch rare ultrasound footage of baby okapi's heartbeat in the womb

13 February 2020, 13:00

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

London Zoo vets London Zoo have released footage of a "rare" ultrasound recording of a baby okapi's heart beating in the womb.

The team at ZSL are monitoring the pregnancy of one of their most endangered species the okapi, which is also known as the forest giraffe, which although it has striped markings like a zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe.

The remarkable footage follows the Zoo’s expert vet team as they work to carry out six-year-old Oni’s six-month scan last month, before analysing the footage.

ZSL vet Tai Strike said: “Oni is heading into her second trimester and I’m pleased to say both mother and baby are doing very well; we can now clearly see the curve of a spine and a strong heartbeat, which means we hope to hear the pitter-patter of tiny hooves sometime between August and November this year.”

Zookeepers and vets carry out the scan
Zookeepers and vets carry out the scan. Picture: ZSL

The zoo said Oni has been having regular ultrasounds since her keepers first suspected she was pregnant last August - using daily training to make sure she is completely comfortable with the scans.

“Oni’s keepers practise target training with her every day – presenting her with a small, handheld wooden target that she can touch with her tongue in order to get a small reward; this allows them to calmly encourage her into the right position for the ultrasound.”

ZSL London Zoo reveals incredible ultrasound footage of pregnant okapi
ZSL London Zoo reveals incredible ultrasound footage of pregnant okapi. Picture: ZSL

“She’s totally nonplussed when we arrive and get out the kit – she’s actually a big fan of the ultrasound gel, which is clearly very tasty as she loves trying to lick it off!”

This is the second pregnancy for Oni, who gave birth to her first calf, named Meghan, in 2017 - the two-year-old moved to Chester Zoo last year as part of the EEP.