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This reclusive diurnal species lives in some of the densest parts of the rain forest.

Although it has long been hunted by indigenous pygmy tribes, it was discovered by the outside world only in 1901.

At first it was thought to be related to the zebra because of its black- and white-striped flanks, but it is now known to be a member of the giraffe family.

The males have small, hairy, backward-pointing horns and both sexes have extremely long tongues, which they use to clean their eyes and to manipulate leaves, fruit, plants, and shoots as they eat.

The young are often left alone hidden in the thick forest, but at any hint of danger, the mother will run to her calf and fiercely beat her front feet on the ground as she faces the threat.

Animal Facts

Name: Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

Family: Giraffidae (Giraffes and Okapis)

Range: Northeastern Zaire

Habitat: Dense forest

Diet: Leaves, buds, shoots, grasses, fruits, ferns and fungi

Head and Body Length: 4 to 6.6 feet (1.2 to 2 m)

Tail Length: 12 to 16.5 inches (30 to 42 cm)

Weight: 463 to 551 pounds (210 to 250 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating throughout year, peaks May to June and November to December; gestation 421 to 457 days, usually one calf born

Description: Chocolatey-brown in color; horizontal white stripes on legs and hindquarters; long, black tongue; large, flexible ears; hair-covered horns; long, thick neck

Conservation Status: Lower Risk (Near Threatened)

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and degradation; hunting

What Can I Do?: Visit the Wildlife Conservation Network and the Wildlife Conservation Society for information on how you can help.