Animal Class: Mammals
Height: 4.9 feet (at the shoulder)
Length: 8.2 feet
Weight: 440 to 770 pounds
Lifespan: 20 – 30 years
Diet: Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi. Their 18-inch-long tongue helps them reach higher branches.
Habitat: The ideal habitat of the okapi is canopy forests at altitudes of 1,600 – 4,900 feet. The have a limited range in the wild, living only across central, northern, and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and north and east of the Congo River. Okapis are solitary, with overlapping home ranges.
Okapis have long necks and large, flexible ears. Their coat is a chocolate to reddish brown except on the face, throat, and chest, which are grayish-white. They have white horizontal stripes and rings on their legs and white ankles, which make them somewhat resemble a zebra. However, they are actually related to the giraffe. Male okapis have short, hair-covered horns called ossicones, less than 6 inches.
Okapis are endangered, and protected by law in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Major threats include habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Extensive hunting for bushmeat and skin and illegal mining have also led to population declines. Recently, the presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas has inhibited conservation and monitoring actions. Only around 100 okapis live in AZA accredited zoos, and their population is managed in America by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) and in Europe by the European Endangered Species Programme.