You Will Love the Okapi


Perhaps in a zoo or public library you’ve stumbled upon an image of this peculiar creature. The okapi is not vastly well known, even to modern biology, because of the secretive behavior of the animal. Though we may not know everything about this beautiful mammal, here are ten interesting facts that science has discovered:

1 – Okapis are related to giraffes. In fact, they’re the only living relative to the giraffe species.

white and brown giraffe

Photo by Gabriella Herlaar on

Upon further observation of the head of the okapi and the giraffe, similarities between the two species can be noted in the shape of the head and face, the horns on the males, and the ears.

2 – The Ituri Forest is the natural home of the Okapi species. This is a tropical rain forest in central Africa.

This forest also houses the Okapi Wildlife Preserve, dedicated to restoring the  population of the endangered okapis. (

3 – The scientific name for Okapis is Okapia Johnstoni. Translated, this means: “forest giraffe.”


Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

Take a giraffe from the Savannah and throw it into a lush, green rainforest, paint it brown and remove a few feet of height – and the result will be a brand new okapi.

To break it down a little more:

/Order: Artiodactyla/
/Family: Giraffidae/
/Genus and Species: Okapia johnstoni/

4 – Okapis like to live and travel alone.

Quiet and solitary, okapis do not travel in pairs or herds unless a mother is nursing an okapi calf. Other than this one circumstance, these creatures like to be isolated, even from other okapis. They mark their territory and let others know to stay away.

5 – The white and brown stripes have a purpose – camouflage in the rain forest.

The stripes on their lower half and the dark brown coat above help to keep the okapi hidden in the dense forests they are native to.

6 – Okapis can live up to 20-30 years. 

And every single one of those years an okapi spends on this earth is precious. Humans are lucky to be able to study and learn about these amazing animals.

7 – These animals are difficult to locate. 

Because of their sensitive hearing abilities and their camouflaged coats in the rainforest, okapis are not easy creatures to track down. They are very good at hiding and evading human detection.

close up of a sign against white background

Photo by Tayeb MEZAHDIA on

This might not be great for researchers, but it’s a huge help in keeping the okapis protected as they keep themselves off the radar.

8 – Okapis’ coats are oily. 

With an oily coat, water slides off instead of being absorbed. This is helpful in a wet, humid environment where the okapi species lives.

macro shot photography of water drops

Photo by on

9 – Leopards are the primary predator of the okapi. 

animal big big cat blur

Photo by Pixabay on

The camouflage brown and striped coats and powerful hearing not only protect okapis against humans, but also defend against natural predators as well. The Ituri Rainforest may be beautiful, but it’s not lacking in the area of dangerous predators.

10 – Okapis are Herbivores. 

cascade creek environment fern

Photo by Pixabay on

This diet includes leaves, twigs, and other vegetation. No meat.

The okapi still leaves us with unanswered questions, but the species is no longer a complete mystery. This beautiful creature has opened many eyes to the wondrous diversity this earth provides.

What humans learn from the Okapi – be who you are, with stripes, big ears, and all else unique to you. Don’t feel you have to fit in with the rest of the world.

When an opportunity arises, check out the nearest zoo to get a glimpse of an okapi. You will not be disappointed.


Thank you for reading this post.

Hope the rest of your day is great!

Carly Twelve



Christiansen, P. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Animals. (pp. 91). London, United Kingdom. International Masters Publishers AB.

Bradford, A. (2016, September 23) Okapi: Facts About the Forest Giraffe. Retrieved from

Okapi. Retrieved from

The Okapi: A Most Curious Animal, A Cultural Symbol, a Species on the Brink.


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