The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Okapia johnstoni
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened.
  • Location: Central Africa


The Scoop

Long Neck, Long Tongue

The okapi is found in the dense mountain rainforests of Central Africa. It is also found in areas where there is slow-moving fresh water. Okapis are incredibly shy and elusive animals that depend on the dense foliage of the rainforests to protect them from their enemies. The okapi has a long neck which not only helps it to reach leaves that are higher up, but also provides it with a means of defense. It has a red-brown coat of fur with horizontal, white striped markings that are found on its hind quarters and on tops of its legs. The okapi has a long head, a dark muzzle with large ears and an impressively long black tongue. 

The okapi is about the size of a horse- around five feet tall. It can weigh up to 660 lbs which is about the weight of three or four men. Okapis survive on a diet that is only comprised of plant matter. They eat leaves, shoots and twigs that they draw into their mouths using their long tongue, along with fruits, berries and other plant parts. Okapis also eat reddish clay that provides them with essential salt and minerals. Although they are thought to be fairly common throughout their natural range, okapis are threatened because their habitat is being destroyed as rain forests are being cut down. The okapi is now protected by law.


Did You Know?

  • The okapi seems to be a blend of various animals—part zebra, part donkey, and part antelope—but its closest living relative is the giraffe.
  • The tongue of the okapi is so long that it can actually lick its own ear!
  • Okapi newborns can stand up within 30 minutes of birth and will nurse for the first time within an hour of birth.
  • Okapis often travel up to half a mile each day along trails used for generations. A scent gland on each foot leaves behind a sticky, tar-like substance wherever they walk.


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