IUCN Red List status:


For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredlist.org

Animal vulnerability index Animal vulnerability index

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.

Okapi numbers have declined by 50% in 24 years

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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