mammal related to the giraffe but smaller
cousin; Relative of a giraffe; Congo rainforest denizen; African
ruminant; Animal with striped legs
2 times a year
in English language:
34616 / 86800
Zebra Horse Giraffe Cross Bred Okapi
Okapi is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri
Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, in central Africa. Although the okapi bears striped
markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to
the giraffe. Unknown to Europeans until 1901, today there are
approximately 10,000–20,000 in the wild and only 40
different worldwide institutions display them.
have reddish dark backs, with striking horizontal white stripes
on the front and back legs, making them resemble zebras from a
distance. These markings are thought to help young follow their
mothers through the dense rain forest; they also serve as
camouflage in the wild.
prefer altitudes of 500 to 1,000 m, but may venture above 1,000 m
in the eastern montane rainforests. Because there is a
considerable amount of rain in these forests, okapis have an
oily, velvety coat of fur that repels the water. They develop
this coat early in childhood also as a technique of camouflage.
are herbivores, eating tree leaves and buds, grass, ferns, fruit,
and fungi. Many of the plant species fed upon by the okapi are
poisonous to humans.
okapi was known to the ancient Egyptians; shortly after its
discovery by Europeans, an ancient carved image of the animal was
discovered in Egypt. For years, Europeans in Africa had heard
of an animal that they came to call the 'African unicorn'.
okapi at Bristol Zoo cleans itselfIn his travelogue of exploring
the Congo, Henry Morton Stanley mentioned a kind of donkey that
the natives called the 'Atti', which scholars later identified as
the okapi. Explorers may have seen the fleeting view of the
striped backside as the animal fled through the bushes, leading
to speculation that the okapi was some sort of rainforest zebra.
of 2010 there are about 160 specimens in zoos, making okapis in
North American and Europen zoos reasonably common. Immediately
following their discovery, zoos around the world attempted to
obtain okapis from the wild. These initial attempts were
accompanied by a high mortality rate due to the rigors and stress
of traveling thousands of miles by boat and by train. In more
recent years, shipment by airplane has proven more successful.
okapis are not classified as endangered, they are threatened by
habitat destruction and poaching. The world population is
estimated at 10,000–20,000. Conservation work in the Congo
includes the continuing study of okapi behaviour and lifestyle,
which led to the creation in 1992 of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
The Congo Civil War threatened both the wildlife and the
conservation workers in the reserve.
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