All individuals should be well acclimated to the shipping container in advance of the shipping date. Type of container depends on length of travel, availability of air flights, and personality of the animal being moved. Animals should also be acclimated to the presence of animal care staff in the event that the animal needs to be observed, fed, and/or watered. Experience has shown that they do well in either a properly sized crate or a properly modified trailer. They will often browse and drink during the trip and, if given the opportunity, rest comfortably.

Type of Container: The okapi travels well in a stall of a modified horse trailer. For long, overland shipments (2-3 days), this is a good option. For short trips, a narrow crate in which the animal cannot turn around is acceptable. For international shipments or for flighty individuals, a wide crate has been successfully used and is now encouraged. This wide crate allows the animal to turn around and comfortably lie down. It is less confining and offers more opportunity for the animal to rest. In all cases, IATA regulations must be met or exceeded.

Size of Container: should match that of the individual. The animal should be able to stand in a normal stance. For short trips, a crate as narrow as 24 inches (61 cm.) for adults is adequate to prevent the animal from trying to turn around. On trips of longer than 12 hours in duration, the container should allow the animal to comfortably turn around and lie down.

Food and Water during Transport: Forage should be readily available during the shipment. If possible, following the animal’s normal feeding/watering schedule is recommended. Grain is not necessary or should be fed at a reduced rate (1/4 ration) during shipment. Fresh produce may be provided to encourage eating and provide moisture. Small amounts of water can be offered. Food and water containers can be removable if an attendant is present, or rubber tubs secured to the ends or corners of the container.

Bedding: A thick layer of wood shavings covered with hay is appropriate. Or a 6 inch layer of dirt/sand covered heavily with hay is acceptable. This provides good footing, absorbs moisture during transport and gives the animal a cushion on which to rest. Deep bedding also absorbs moisture and helps separate the animal from urine and feces. Additional forage added enroute further protects the animal from its wastes. Bedding cannot be changed while enroute.

Appropriate Temperature Range: Temperatures should be maintained within the normal husbandry range for this species. Supplemental heat should be provided if the temperature falls below 55°F (13°C) and cooling should be provided if the temperature rises above 85°F (29.4°C). Increased ventilation may meet the need for cooling, especially during a truck transport.

Mitigation of Light and Noise: Trailers and crates should be constructed to minimize strong light and direct views. When crated animals are waiting to be loaded onto a transport vehicle, they should be placed in a location as remote from the hustle and bustle of the terminal as possible. An attendant should remain with the crate to assure disturbance is minimized. A radio may be utilized to mitigate unusual noises, which cannot be eliminated.

Group Size: Okapis are solitary and should be transported separately. Access during Transport: Access to the animal during transport is limited to visual/tactile access through the established ports in the container. It is not possible to enter the container with the animal. The animal should not be removed from its container unless it can be contained in another acceptable area and extreme circumstances prevail.

Transport time: Routes and schedules should be predetermined and reviewed to minimize the length of the trip as much as possible. If an animal is acclimated and in a spacious container, lengthy trips are feasible with no apparent ill effects.

Timing of Release: Size and Type of Enclosure at Destination: It is preferable to release an animal into an interior space where locomotion, light, and visibility can be controlled.The animal care staff routine should be instituted immediately to assist the animal in acclimation to its new environment. It is helpful if a keeper familiar with the animal accompanies the shipment to assist with its acclimation.

Edited by Terry DeRosa, San Antonio Zoo, Fran Lyon, White Oak Conservation Center and Ann Petric, Okapi SSP Coordinator, Brookfield Zoo Illustration: J. Busch
Updated and adapted for the web, Patrick Immens