Okapi          Okapia johnstoni

Type of Animal:
Giraffe (Only living relative of giraffe)


Parts of C., N., & E. Democratic Republic of Congo, primarily found in Ituri Forest in N.E.

Brown w/ reddish tinge, striped legs/rump, white ankles, black nose, face white or brown, long neck, looks like mix between zebra, horse, deer, & giraffe, males have small hair-covered horns called ossicones, long tongue like their closest relatives-giraffes.

Leaves, fruit, seeds, ferns, fungi, shoots, soft twigs, buds, grasses

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks, & breeding centers. Okapi Conservation Project established in 1987. Epulu Conservation/Research Center in Okapi Wildlife Reserve kept captive okapi. Unfortunately in June 2012, all 14 captive okapis killed in attack by gang of Mai-Mai rebels, who also killed 6 people. Epulu was looted & burned but repairs have been underway. White Oak Conservation in Yulee, FL also plays important role in saving this species.


Additional Info:


Male-440-660 lbs
Female-495-770 lbs
Young-180 lbs

14-15 months

Life Span:
20-30 years

Male-5 ft
Female-6 ft

Body Length:
8 ft, same for both sexes

Tail Length:
Male-1 ft
Female-1.4 ft

Only predators of adults are leopards. Servals & golden cats only prey on calves.

They’re sometimes called forest giraffes or forest zebras.

They use their ears to help detect leopards.

Males fight by necking, just like giraffes. Fights are usually fairly mild.

Endangered due to deforestation/logging, habitat loss, hunting for fur/ meat, susceptibility to viral/bacterial/fungal infections, civil war, & illegal mining.

National symbol of the Congo.

Females sexually mature at 2 years, males at 2.5 years.

Unlike giraffes, male okapi are territorial.

Calves go through hiding stage for first 3 months of life.

While usually quiet, calves may bleat/whistle at mom. Females make cough sounds during courtship. Males also cough & whistle at each other.

Fun Fact(s):
These animals are very shy & elusive. In fact, they were only discovered by Western Science in 1901, when Sir Harry Johnston sent a skull & some skins back to London. In fact, it was called African unicorn because it was believed to be a myth.

They don’t poop for 1st 2 months of life, since it makes them more easily detected by predators.

2 thoughts on “Okapi

    1. Daniel Post author

      That’s an excellent question! It certainly looks like it could be related to a zebra but the truth is it’s actually the closest living relative of the giraffe. In fact, they’re sometimes called forest giraffes.


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