What is an Okapi?


Okapia johnstoni

Like giraffes and Cabernet tasters, okapis have long purple tongues. These are useful for stripping delicious leaves off of trees and vines, and come in handy for cleaning ears, too. Adults are about six feet tall, with lovely faces and gorgeous velvet coats of dark chestnut or mahogany. Their fur is so thick and oily (to repel rain), that it will hold your handprint for a few moments after you touch it.

The stripes on the okapi’s forelegs and hindquarters are thought to camouflage it in the forest, and may also help a calf follow its mother through dense foliage. Historically, the okapi was known to the people with whom it shared the forest, but was undiscovered by scientists until 1900. European explorers were looking for this creature rumored to be a horned horse – maybe even a unicorn!