A refugee from Hurricane Irma in Florida has arrived in North Dakota – at a local zoo.
An okapi named Akili from the Disney Animal Kingdom had been scheduled to be moved to Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo a bit later, but the hurricane moved up his departure.
The animal – native to the Congo in Africa – will be calling this his home after his mandatory 30-day quarantine.
And it’s a habitat that’s out of left field — literally.
The grass in the enclosure came from the outfield at nearby Corbett Field, where the turf is in the process of being replaced.
In addition, Akili’s new home has other unique features like eucalyptus-style fencing and structures, and trees native to his home range.
The zoo’s director says local zoo staff did all the work to prepare for the new arrival, including moving up the arrival time due to the hurricane.
(Becky Dewitz, Roosevelt Park Zoo Director) “They contacted us before the storm and said they’d really like to get him out and safe and so we were able to work with our shipper, get him loaded, and moved and he loaded on Thursday early morning on his way here and here by Saturday.”
Roosevelt Park Zoo is just the 27th zoo in the nation to have an Okapi habitat and Akili will serve as an ambassador for conservation.