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Okapi Facts

Size Up to 6.5 ft (2 m)
Speed Up to 37 mph (60 km/h)
Weight Up to 771 lb (350 kg)
Lifespan 20-30 years
Food Leaves, herbs, fruits, grasses
Predators Leopards, serval cats
Habitat Central Africa
Order Even-toed ungulates
Family Giraffidae
Scientific name Okapia johnstoni
Characteristics Striped forest giraffe

Main Characteristics

The okapi is a forest giraffe living in the Ituri rain forest in the democratic republic Kongo. It is a shy loner, and this is why the size of the population can only be roughly estimated. There probably only 10,000-35,000 animals. Therefore, the okapi is classified by the IUCN as endangered species.

Mysterious Forest Giraffe

The okapi does not like to be seen and despite its size it was unknown until the famous Africanist Henry Stanley discovered it in 1890. The okapi is very rare and nearly all our knowledge about this animal has been gathered at zoos.

Okapi Photo: Miama2you/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance


Why are okapis so small? Okapis live in the forest. If they were as tall as giraffes, it would be quite difficult for them to move around.



The tongue of the okapi is between 13.7 to 17.7 inches (35 to 45 cm) long. The animal can use it to lick its ears and eyes clean.

Okapi Photo: MarclSchauer/Shutterstock

Life Style

Okapis are active during the day and spend most of their time with eating leaves. Yet, they also have fruits, ferns and mushrooms on their menu. They also like to lick on clay in order to take in minerals and salts.


How Do They Sleep?

The okapi only sleeps five minutes per day! It has about ten slow wave sleep phases, but they are never longer than 30 seconds each. However, the okapi likes to snooze and spends up to six hours per night on its resting place.


How Do They Drink?

Okapis have a rather long neck, but they cannot reach the ground with it just like their tall relatives, the giraffes. To be able to drink they have to widely spread their front legs to lower their body and reach the ground with their head.

Okapi Photo: Igor Matic/Shutterstock

Life Expectancy

How long do okapis live? The oldest okapi became 33 years old, but it lived at a zoo. Out in the wild they live for about 15-20 years.


Like many other hoofed animals, okapis are able to stand on their own legs about 30 minutes after having been born. During the next few weeks, the mother hides the baby in the thicket so that it can grow up safely. Male okapis grow horns on their heads after about one year. The animals are grown up at an age of two to three years.

Okapi Photo: MarclSchauer/Shutterstock

The Okapi Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

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