Thursday, February 9, 2012


It has the buttocks and legs of a zebra and the head of a giraffe. Could it be the offspring of both? Unfortunately, not.  The Okapi, as what it is formally known, is a close relative of the giraffe and lives in the Ituiri Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was once described by 1887 English discoverer Henry Morton Stanley as a type of donkey with striped backsides that dwell in the woodlands. Its etymological name is Okapia Johnstoni, as derived from its etymological christener Sir Harry Johnston, who was a British governor of Uganda.

Harry Johnston was intrigued by the animal after reading Morton’s book about his trip to Central Africa.  He then gained knowledge of the species after saving native inhabitants of the area called “pygmies” from a showman who kidnapped them for display. Although he never had actually seen the okapi, he collected some bones and officially named its species in 1901.

Their name “Okapi” originally means forest giraffe in Sudan language. It is also known as the “African Unicorn”.

The Okapi’s diet varies from fruits, berries, to plants poisonous to human beings.  Okapis have long bluish-grey tongues that sometimes reach their ears to help groom themselves. They are diurnal, which means they feed in both nighttime and daytime.  What’s more interesting about them is that they can live up to fifteen years in captivity. They are solitary creatures whose habitat is slowly being endangered due to the vast property developments by humans.

Okapis generally have giraffe characteristics like large ears, small horns and short manes. Their necks are relatively shorter than their cousins, just as they are smaller. They stand at about 5 feet, and weigh between four hundred fifty to five hundred fifty pounds (or up to two hundred fifty kilograms).

It would be interesting to see one personally, don’t you agree?

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