Okapi Facts

okapi portraitPortrait of an Okapi

One of the coolest okapi facts is that they are known as "forest zebras" do to the stripes on their back legs.

The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe and together they are the last survivors of the once plentiful Giraffidae family. Naturally, the giraffe is one of the great wonders of Africa and the tallest animal on Earth, but the okapi is a shy and timid forest-dwelling creature and is only about the size of a small cow.

They have occicones, a long tongue, and "necking" habits like giraffes, but are largely solitary in the wild.

Okapis live in dense rainforests in the Congo region of central Africa, where they existed, undiscovered, until about 1890.

Originally thought to be a species of zebra, they were recognized as a unique species in 1901.

The okapi is dramatically smaller than the giraffe, at only about 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and 450 to 750 pounds. They have a velvety, chocolate brown coat with flashy, cream-colored stripes down the haunches.

Okapis have huge ears, and rely on excellent hearing in their heavily forested home, where their main predator is the leopard.

The okapi is only found in one country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the national symbol for the country, but due to the nations instability, the okapi population has plummeted to dangerous levels.

Only about 30,000 individuals exist in the wild, but they are very difficult to record and track due to their solitary lifestyle and the tricky conditions of the dense rainforest areas they call home. An okapi preserve was established for them by the government, but they are still hunted for their beautiful hides.

The okapi was once considered a bit of a mystical creature because so few were ever seen. They were called the African unicorn, and have also been referred to as the forest giraffe and also the forest zebra.

The most distinctive feature of the okapi is the dramatic striped pattern of the rear legs and rump.

beautiful pair of okapis
giraffe animal stats
okapi story


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Okapi tongue

a few more Okapi facts

okapi walking toward camera
  • The okapi is the closest relative of the giraffe
  • The okapis tongue is so long it can lick it's ears
  • Okapis have 2 skin-covered horns called "occicones"
  • The okapi has scent glands in it's feet that leave a stinky residue
  • Okapis "chew their cud" just like cows
  • The okapi can communicate at sound levels that humans can't hear


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MALE FEMALE YOUNG SOCIAL UNIT
bull cow calf herd
HOME HABITAT LIFESPAN FAVORITE FOOD
Africa Asia savanna  20-25 years acacai leaves
ENEMIES GENDER DIFFERENCE AVG. HEIGHT AVG. WEIGHT
lion males larger 16-18 feet 1800-2400 pounds
TOP SPEED GESTATION BIRTHWEIGHT BIRTHHEIGHT:
 37 mph 15 months 150 pounds 5.5-6 feet
RAISED BY # OF YOUNG EYES OPEN STANDS UP
mother   1, rare twins at birth 30 mins
WEANED INDEPENDENT MATURITY ENDANGERED?
9-12 months 15-18 months 4-6 years some subspecies




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