147. The Oddity of Okapi!


Okapi was the largest mammal to be discovered as recently as 1901! However, ancient Egyptians knew about this strange animal and had made carved images if it. Okapi looks partly like a Zebra but is more closely related to a giraffe. It was called at one time as “The African unicorn”.

An Okapi resembles a horse. It is 2.5 metres long and stands 1.5 metres tall at the shoulder. Its tail is 30 to 42 cm long and the animal weighs a massive 250 kilograms. Its long black tongue is 30 cm long and is very useful in its personal grooming, including cleaning the muzzles, ears and eyes.

Male Okapi has dark, chestnut, velvety body while females have purplish red coats. Its horse-like face, with large flexible ears, is supported by a long neck. White horizontal stripes adorn its legs and hind quarters. It has white stocking like marks on the ankles and its face whitish grey.

Males have short hair-covered horns, projecting backwards. Females stand 5 cm taller than males and have no horns. The long tongue is used to pluck leaves, buds and branches for food.

Okapi has many similarities with the giraffe. Both theses animals walk in the same strange manner, by placing both the legs on the same side simultaneously–unlike the others who place one leg from each side.

Average life span of an okapi is 30 years in captivity and much less in wilderness. Okapis are not social animals and live alone and the mother lives with her offspring. Adult Okapis meet, mate and part soon after.

Males have larger home territories than females. They exhibit aggressive behaviors like kicking and head throwing. The dominating animal holds it head high and neck straight while the one who surrenders places its head and neck on the ground.

Many of the plants eaten by the Okapi are poisonous to mankind. All the same they eat those plants with no apparent ill effects. Grass, fern, fungi, fruits and trees charred by lightning, clay found on river beds and streams all form part of the Okapi’s menu!

Okapis merge very well with the places where they live and become almost invisible. This may be the reason why it had to be rediscovered in 1901. Okapis are found mainly in the tropical forests in North Eastern Zaire, at an altitude 500 to 1000 metres.

No wonder Okapi is one of nature’s oddities–it appears to a combination of a horse, a zebra, and a giraffe-all rolled into one!

Visalakshi Ramani

Dear children! Now you can read nice stories from epics (in English) in my Tamil poems blog.
The link is in the home page. The story is right below each of the Tamil poems.

65 Responses to 147. The Oddity of Okapi!

  1. georgie murphy says:

    are okapis real

    • Of course they are as real as we are!

      Okapi are native to the Ituri Rain forest located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.

      Although parts of it looks like a zebra, it is actually more closely related to the giraffe. There are approximately 10,000 to 20,000 left in the wild today and only 40 different worldwide institutions display them today.

      They are definitely not extinct. They are also not considered endangered although they are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching.

  2. shelby says:

    these are the most AMAZING animals they are so beautiful ……. they are like mutipersonalityed cause they look like a zebra graiff and a horse …i wish i had one

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