Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

World Okapi Day

World Okapi Day is coming up (October 18) but we will be celebrating at Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, October 13. We are hosting special chats and opportunities to talk with staff, as well as World Okapi Day crafts at Hamill Family Play Zoo.

Many of you are already familiar with the okapi and know that it is neither horse nor zebra, but is most closely related to the giraffe. You may also know that okapi and giraffe share similar features, such as skull shape and a purple, prehensile tongue.

So today, we wanted to give you five new weird and wonderful facts about okapi!  

1. Their huge ears help them in using very low frequency sounds to communicate with each other. (Brookfield Zoo okapi also happen to love a good ear rub from their animal care specialists!)

2. Okapi have scent glands on their hooves, which allow them to mark their path as they walk through the forest.

3. Their beautiful mahogany color is thanks to dark oily skin secretions which protect their skin from insects and wet conditions in the rain forest.

4. They will eat the charcoal from trees that have been struck by lightning. The charcoal helps absorb the toxins from some of the plants in the okapis’ diet.

5. Here’s one for the moms out there – okapi calves stay in a nest site for the first few months of life and don't defecate until they are about a month and a half old.

Ya hear that? A. Month. And. A Half.

Okapi are Endangered and are threatened by habitat loss and degradation partially due to the mining of coltan, a mineral used in cell phones and tablets, from their forest home in the Congo. You can help by recycling devices that you are no longer using. In fact, when you visit Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, October 13th, you can bring your cell phone to recycle at Habitat Africa! The Forest.

So stop by Saturday, bring an old cell phone, catch an okapi chat at 11:15 or 2:15, and create an okapi craft at Hamill Family Play Zoo from 11:00 - 2:00!

Posted: 10/10/2018 2:32:24 PM by Yvette Mendez

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read the latest exciting stories about how our experts are advancing the science of “animal-directed” care through innovative programs at Brookfield Zoo and global field efforts.


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