The okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) is a beautiful and unusual animal. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, is it related to zebras? No! Take a look at an okapi’s head, and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes. The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe.
Like giraffes, okapis have large, upright ears. These catch even slight sounds, helping okapis avoid trouble. They also have a long, prehensile tongue, just like a giraffe’s. This helps okapis strip the buds and young leaves from the understory brush of their rain forest home. A scent gland on each foot leaves behind a sticky substance. This marks their territory.
Okapis are hard to find in the wild, the dense rain forest in central Africa. Scientists didn’t know of the animal until 1900. But you can observe these wondrous creatures with ease along the African Loop in the Safari Park’s African Woods!