Okapia johnstoni

Hidden in the shadows of Africa’s dense Ituri Forest lives a shy relative of the giraffe called the okapi. Like the giraffe, the okapi uses its long, prehensile tongue to pluck leaves and buds from trees.

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The foot-long tongue also allows the okapi to lick and clean its own eyelids and ears. An okapi also walks like a giraffe, swinging forward both legs on the same side of the body together. Okapis are solitary, only coming together to mate.

  • The zebra-like stripes on the back of the okapi’s legs are thought to serve as a “follow me” signal for calves.
  • Okapis defend their young from predators, such as the leopard, by kicking with their feet.
  • The okapi was only officially discovered in 1900.

Learn more about what the Cincinnati Zoo is doing to support okapi conservation.

Fact File

Species @ Risk Image
Species Survival Plan Image
pronunciationPronunciation: oh-KOP-ee
where to see themWhere to see them: Rhino Reserve
heightHeight: up to 8ft
weightWeight: 400-700lbs
life expectancyLife Expectancy: 16 yrs
habitatHabitat: Forest
dietDiet: Leaves, grass, fruit and fungi
exclamationRisk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Endangered)