Okapi Facts

Okapi Facts
Okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe. This beautiful animal lives in the northern, central and eastern parts of the Congo (Africa). Okapi prefers dense and damp vegetation, so it inhabits rainforests. Okapi was discovered in 1900, with 45 000 animals that lived in the wild at the time. Intensive deforestation during the 20th century and high susceptibility toward fungal, bacterial and viral infections reduced the number of okapis to around 10 000. At the moment they are listed as "near threatened", which means that they could easily become endangered in the near future.
Interesting Okapi Facts:
Females are larger than males. On average, okapi weighs between 440 and 700 pounds. They can be up to 6.5 feet tall and reach 8.1 feet in length.
Okapi has dark purple or reddish brown velvety fur, with white horizontal stripes on their front and hind legs.
Okapi slightly resembles to zebra because of the stripes, but it shares much more similarities with giraffe. It has long skull, large black eyes and very long, purplish tongue, just like giraffe.
Okapi's tongue is 18 inches long and it can reach both its eyes and ears.
Okapi's tongue is prehensile, which means that is used for stripping the leaves and buds from stems of various plants. Besides leaves, okapi eats fruits, grasses, ferns and twigs.
Okapi is mostly active during the afternoon and in the early evening. It often travel 0.5 to 2.5 miles per day while searching for food.
Okapi is a ruminant, just like cow. It swallows and regurgitates its food for additional chewing several times.
Only male okapis have horns which are covered with skin. Females have bumps on their head instead of horns. Horns are short to prevent tangling with dense vegetation in the rainforest.
Okapi has large ear and excellent sense of hearing which is used for detection of potential danger. Okapi also has excellent sense of smell.
Leopard is the only natural enemy of the okapi in the wild.
Okapis are solitary and territorial animals. They produce tar-like substance and release urine to mark their territory.
Female okapi vocalizes when she is ready for the mating. Males and females spend few weeks together, which is enough for females to become pregnant.
Pregnancy lasts between 14 and 16 months and it ends with one calf. Young okapi looks like an adult animal, except it has a fringe of hair along its spine. It disappears at the age of one year.
Calf spends first few weeks of its life hidden in dense vegetation. It does not defecate for the first 4 to 8 weeks because it is too weak and it can be easily detected (sniffed out) by predators.
Average lifespan of the okapi is between 20 and 30 years.

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