Okapi are HERBIVORES, eating many different plants. They like leaves, shoots, twigs and sometimes fruit.
Lowland equatorial rain forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Okapi produce an infrasonic call to communicate with their calves, a sound which humans cannot hear.
Okapis were only known to local people from 1901!
Their velvet-like fur is WATERPROOF!
These fascinating animals remained undiscovered until 1901, deep in Central Africa and look like a cross between a horse and a zebra.
For years, even the best animal experts in the world couldn’t determine what kind of animal the okapi is related to. The most striking thing about Okapi is their beautiful dark velvety fur and a stripey rear, but the biggest clue to which family they belong to is their long necks. They’ve got long tongues and ossicones on their heads, just like another large mammal… Yes, believe it or not, Okapi are part of the giraffe family.
These incredibly shy animals were undiscovered to science until the 20th century when a team of scientists went on search for them. They sent okapi skins back to the British Museum where they were wrongly identified as a new species of zebra.
You can spot the difference between male and female okapis by their ossicones – females don’t have them! Females are also taller than males.
Okapi have long pregnancies lasting for up to 450 days, and mothers give birth to a single calf. It’s vital that new mothers bond with their babies immediately, as the survival of the calf depends upon this happening.
Okapis are THREATENED by habitat loss, poaching and illegal occupation of protected areas
Logging, farming and human settlements are changing the land, making it more difficult for individuals to find each other and in the Twabinga-Mundo region, local people consider okapi to be the most prized bushmeat. On top of this, conservationists can’t conduct surveys or monitor sites in areas that are occupied by illegal armed forces.
We helped to develop a conservation strategy for okapi with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Zoo staff contributed technical support to the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Advisory Group to help in the project development stage.
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