January 17, 2018 / 1:13 PM / 3 months ago

London zoo names newborn Okapi after Meghan Markle

LONDON (Reuters) - Meghan Markle, the American actress who is engaged to Britain’s Prince Harry, has a new namesake after London zoo named a just-born Okapi after her in honor of her wedding in May.

Meghan the Okapi was born on Dec. 9 2017 to Oni, in a roughly 30-minute labor captured on camera by zoo keepers. The zoo released the first pictures of the animal in recent days.

Okapis are members of the giraffe family - though they do not have the long neck. Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are notable for zebra-like stripes on their hind quarters and upper legs.

“We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps,” zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said in a statement.

Okapis are listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Researchers cited by the San Diego Zoo estimate that around 25,000 Okapis remain in the wild.

Markle is due to wed Prince Harry, fifth in line to the British throne, in May of 2018.

(This corrected version of the story fixes the date Okapi was born, adds line saying when first pictures released).

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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