Hey everyone! Back again for some hardcore learning action? Well, I aim to please so let me whip out something I came up with on my own if'n ya don't mind. The strange, the weird, and the seldom known.....
Okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) Okapia johnstoni
From the family Giraffidae which you may guess contains giraffes and of course the okapi. Yep, the okapi is a giraffe family member...not a zebra or anything like that.
"I'm lovably awkward looking."
Shoulder height is 5–5.6 ft (150–170 cm), body length is 6.2-8.2ft (~1.9-2.5m ), tail length is 12-16.8in(~30-42cm.). The weight is 462–550 lb (210–250 kg.). Females are slightly taller than males. Okapis possess a long, black, prehensile tongue- approximately 1ft(~30cm) long.
The body is sloped, with the forequarters much higher than the rear. An okapi's coat is a dark chestnut to chocolate-brown color with creamy white stripes on upper legs, which bears resemblance to a zebra, and white stockings. They have hooves and on each foot they have scent glands that produce a tar-like substance to leave messages to other members of its species.
The vaguely horse-like head is generally lighter in color than the body, with a black muzzle, and is supported by a thick neck. The ears are quite large and give them an excellent sense of hearing; their sense of smell is also very well developed. Males will develop two knobby skin-covered horns called ' ossicones' between 1-5 years of age.
Big ears, long tongue, knobby horns. He's a handsome devil.
Northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. More specifically the Ituri Forest...and that's pretty much it. Their range is pretty limited.
They prefer dense, moist tropical lowland forest near water, especially secondary forest.
Herbivorous. They are browsers. Okapis eat tree leaves and buds, grass, ferns, fruit, and fungi. Many of the plant species fed upon by the okapi are poisonous to humans.
Charcoal from trees burnt by lightning is consumed as well. The okapi's mineral and salt requirements are filled primarily by a sulfurous, slightly salty, reddish clay found near rivers and streams.
Okapis eat 40 to 65 pounds (18 to 29 kilograms) of food a day.
They are mainly solitary, except mothers with calves or mating pairs. Rarely they will form temporary groups when feeding. Their ranges will overlap and they're not particularly territorial, but there is a male dominated hierarchy and they aren't very friendly to other males wandering through their territory. Males take no issue with females walking through their territory.
When feeding, okapis generally stick to well trodden paths on their way to favorite feeding areas. While walking they will deposit tar-like secretions as signals to other okapis. Males may also spray urine to mark territory.
They are usually very silent, but do make a slight coughing noise during rut. Younger animals use a variety of sounds including coughs, bleats, and whistles. Those vocalizations increase if mother and young become separated. Mothers are very protective of their young and will defend it accordingly. They will stomp on the ground as a warning before attacking.
Mom and baby, chillin' in a stable.
Young are born from August to October. The gestation period is 14-15 months. Expectant mothers retreat into dense forest to give birth to only one calf, after which the newborn lies hidden for several days. The young do not seem to imprint on their mothers, and have been observed nursing from two different females. Calves are weaned after 6 months. Females achieve sexual maturity at 2 years, males are sometime later. They live between 20 and 30 years.
Who can resist that face?
Until 1901 the okapi was known only to the local people.
The name "Okapi" is a compilation of two Lese words. Oka a verb meaning to cut and Kpi which is a noun referring to the design made on Efe arrows by wrapping the arrow with bark so as to leave stripes when scorched by fire. The stripes on the legs of the Okapi resemble these stripes on the arrow shafts. Lese legend says the okapi decorates itself with these stripes.
Leopards are the okapi’s main natural predator.
The okapi’s dark tongue is long enough to clean its eyes and ears.
Onions are the okapis’ favorite treat at the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. They are fed onions once a week.
Okapi newborns can stand up within 30 minutes of birth and will nurse for the first time within an hour of birth.
Okapi calves defecate for the first time between four and eight weeks of age. This adaptation helps keep predators from sniffing out the hidden newborns until they have had a chance to grow and gain strength.
Speaking of growing, calves triple their size from birth by the end of their second month of life. However, it takes 3 years for them to reach adult size.
Okapis are exceedingly hard to find in the wild. Their camouflage and silence combined with the thick rainforest habitat explains why it took so long to find them. Their sensitive hearing and sense of smell also allows them the luxury of escaping before humans can even find them.
They're very weird animals, and with their generally shy nature it's hard to learn a whole lot about them. Luckily they do fairly well in captivity and we've learned a good bit from those specimens.
Now you guys know a bit about that weird zebra/horse thing in the giraffe house at the zoo.