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10 Real Animals That Seem Make-believe


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Okapi
The okapi's brown body and striped legs are perfect camouflage for the forests it lives in. iStock/Thinkstock
The okapi's brown body and striped legs are perfect camouflage for the forests it lives in. iStock/Thinkstock

If you can imagine a creature that's a cross between a donkey and a zebra that walks like a giraffe, then you've got a pretty good mental picture of the okapi (Okapia johnstoni). The strange-looking animal, which is about 8 feet (2.5 meters) long and stands about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall from hoof to shoulder, lives in the dense tropical rain forests of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its bizarre coloration — it has a brown body and legs and hindquarters covered with an array of horizontal black-and-white stripes — enables it to disappear into its usual backdrop of dense vegetation and lighter-colored rotting leaves on the forest floor.

The okapi mimics a giraffe's rolling gait by stepping with the front and hind legs on the same side of the body, instead of using the legs from the opposite sides, as other grazing animals tend to do. It also has a long, black tongue, which it uses for plucking buds, leaves and branches from trees and shrubs [source: Animal Diversity Web]. Sadly, this exotic creature may be in danger of disappearing, with a mere 20,000 existing in the wild [source: Okapiconsevation.org].


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