Okapi Facts

okapi portraitPortrait of an Okapi

One of the coolest okapi facts is that they are known as "forest zebras" because of 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.

Okapi tongue

Okapis use their prehensile tongues to strip leaves and tender shoots from branches. They eat an enormous variety of fruits, twigs and leaves, sampling nearly 100 different plants throughout their rainforest home. The amazing tongue is about 14 inches long!

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 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
okapi facts
okapi story

collage of favorite animals

Vote Here for Your Favorite Animal!

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

  So Much More to Explore...

monkey facts
Tasmanian devil facts
a puppy in the grass
mongoose facts
polar bear facts
killer whale facts
sloth facts
cheetah facts
great apes facts
big cat facts
lion facts
Safari animals
fox facts
koala facts
wombat facts
hyena facts
animal extreme close-ups
reindeer facts
zebra facts
seal facts

What do you think of these fabulous animals? Leave a comment in the box below.
giraffe extreme close-up

see more animal extreme closeups

Recent Articles

  1. African Animals - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

    Oct 11, 16 10:27 PM

    African Animals facts photos and videos..Africa is a wonderland for animal lovers, and a schoolroom for anyone who wants to learn about nature, beauty and the rhythm of life

    Read More

  2. Baboon Facts - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

    Oct 11, 16 10:26 PM

    Baboon facts, photos, videos and information - Baboons are very distinctive looking monkeys with long, dog-like snouts and close set eyes.

    Read More

  3. Great Apes Facts - Animal Facts Encyclopedia

    Oct 11, 16 10:25 PM

    Great apes facts, photos and videos..Human beings did not evolve from chimpanzees, modern chimps and gorillas do not appear in the fossil records until much more recently than homo sapiens..

    Read More