The Strange and Unusual Okapi
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The Strange and Unusual Okapi

Most people have never heard of an Okapi. They are strange animals that have a slight resemblance to the giraffe

Most people have never heard of an Okapi. They are strange animals that have a slight resemblance to the giraffe. They are part of the giraffe family. Scientists once thought the Okapi was extinct, but they were proven wrong in the 20th century when a few Okapi were found. The only Okapis in the world are located either in the northeastern part of the Congo or in zoos. Worldwide, there are 154 Okapis in 42 zoos, the majority in North America and Europe. There are an estimated 10,000-20,000 Okapis in the world today.

The Okapi is a very strange looking animal. They resemble a cross between a giraffe, a horse and a zebra. They stand around 5 to 6 feet tall, are about 6 to 8 feet long, and weigh 440 to 600 pounds. Their body shape is very similar to that of a giraffes, except they do not have long necks. Males have short horns on top of their heads, much like the horns found on a giraffe’s head. Their fur is a reddish-brown color everywhere except their legs, which have the same white and black pattern seen on zebras. Scientists believe the fur is used as camouflage against predators, and it is also waterproof to help keep them warm when the torrential rains come in.

Okapis are herbivores; they eat fruits, plants, nuts, grass, leaves, and fungi. They are prey to a few predators, crocodiles, leopards, and humans. The native tribes of the Congo hunt the Okapi for food; they also pay tribute to them by painting themselves like them when hunting and during war times. Okapis are usually solitary, only coming together to breed and mothers with their young.

The Okapi is considered a threatened species. Poaching has had a serious affect on their numbers, but more so has loss of habitat. Lumber and farming industry in the Congo has had devastating affect on the Okapis habitat and their food supply. The constant conflicts in the Congo have also added too the Okapis decline.

The Okapi was first thought to be a myth from delirious explorers from Africa, and then they were believed to be an extinct animal. Today, we can see these interesting and unique animals in zoos throughout the world, and a few very lucky people will get to see them in their natural environment. Hopefully, these strangely wonderful creatures will continue to grow in numbers, so they do not become the extinct animals they were once believed to be.

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