In Focus – Okapi

Status: Endangered

Geographic Region: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Habitat: Dense rainforest

Threats: Habitat loss and poaching

Left in Wild: Between 15 to 30 thousand

Okapi @ Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Although the Okapi was declared endangered in 2013 they are believed to be in sustainable numbers for the small area they call home. They live in the dense rain-forest of the Congo and are rarely seen because they are so shy and have excellent camouflage.  The endangered status was enacted due to the rapid loss of it’s habitat due to deforestation.


Okapi @ Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The most distinguished feature of the okapi is the black and white stripes on its tail, buttocks and legs, however the okapi is related to the giraffe not the zebra. 
The other distinguishing feature of the okapi, like the giraffe, is it’s long tongue – so long in fact that it uses its tongue to clean inside it own ears.
Both the male and female okapi are ready for mating at 2 years of age. Generally only one calf is born in a litter, however there has been one documented recording of twins. The calf is weaned at six months. 
 

The okapi was unknown to science until 1901. Sir Henry Johnson was the first white person to document the species by discovering a hide and sending it back to Britain to be registered as a species. Sir Johnson did not actually see the okapi for another decade.  After its discovery zoos from around the world rushed to import the okapi. This proved to be disastrous as the shy animal generally died during transport or shortly after arrival due to stress. 

 

Stu’s Zoo Pick for the Okapi 

 

There are no okapis in any zoo in Australia, In fact the majority of captive okapis are found in the United States. Pretty much everything we know about the okapi is based on zoo research. 


Okapi @ Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a terrific breeding program with an expansive enclosure and extensive information about this beautiful animal.
© Stuatthezoo.com
 

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