Okapia johnstoni

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Quick Facts
Height: 5' - 6' at shoulder
Weight: Male: 440 - 660 lbs; Female: 500 - 750 lbs
Wild diet: Leaves, buds, and shoots of trees
Zoo Diet: Alfalfa hay, apples, bananas, greens, sweet potatoes, and carrots
Distribution: Central Africa and the north and northeast Democratic Republic of Congo
Habitat: Dense forests, preferring riverside areas and clearings where sunlight can penetrate to the forest floor

A Rainforest Wonder

Okapi are the only living relative of the giraffe; they share a common ancestor.  Okapi depend primarily on their senses of smell and hearing. Although they have a wide field of vision, their eyesight is relatively poor.  They can lick their own eyelids and ears, and have blue tongues.  Okapi are secretive, solitary animals but they sometimes tolerate other okapi.  Males usually claim their territory by scent-marking trees and bushes with glands between their toes. To show dominance, they stretch their head and neck up high. They show submission by bowing their heads towards the ground.


Okapi are sexually dimorphic (2 distinct gender forms). Females are slightly taller/larger. Males have hide-covered ossicones (hornlike knobs), while females have bony bumps or hairy whorls. They have compact, dark brown bodies with downward sloping hindquarters. Their hindquarters, rump, and upper legs are marked with white stripes on a dark brown background, which make them difficult to see in the light and shadow of the forest.

Status in the Wild

The major threat to this species is habitat loss due to logging, human settlement, mining, and roads. Secondary threats are the bush meat trade and war/political instability.

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