IT'S RELATED TO GIRAFFES?!
The okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) is a beautiful and unusual animal. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, it looks like it must be related to zebras! But take a look at an okapi’s head, and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes. The okapi is indeed the only living relative of the giraffe. Like giraffes, okapis have very large, upright ears, which catch even slight sounds, helping them to avoid trouble. They also have long, dark prehensile tongues, just like a giraffe’s, to help them strip the buds and young leaves from the understory brush of their rain forest home.
Okapis are hard to find in the wild; their natural habitat is the Ituri Forest, a dense rain forest in central Africa. They are very wary, and their highly developed hearing alerts them to run when they hear humans in the distance. In fact, while natives of the Ituri Forest were familiar with okapis, scientists did not know of the animal until 1900. The secretive nature of okapis and the difficulty most humans have of traveling in their habitat have made okapis hard to observe in the wild. But you can observe these wondrous creatures with ease at the Safari Park!