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Rare baby okapi born at Florida zoo dies

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida zoo says an endangered distant relative of a giraffe has died, less than two months after its birth.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park said Thursday that laboratory tests suggest the female okapi (oh-COP-ee) had a condition similar to diabetes and died from acute renal failure.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the calf had reached milestones, including standing on her own.

Zoo veterinarian Ray Ball says staff left the baby in the okapi habitat area of the zoo with her mother Betty, “so she would understand.”

Nicknamed the “rainforest giraffe,” okapis are the closest living relative of giraffes but do not grow that tall. They have zebra-like black-and-white striped patterns on their legs.

The solitary animals are native to the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict and human encroachment have reduced their numbers.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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