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Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

Why Does the Okapi Have Zebra-like Stripes?

Why Does the Okapi Have Zebra-like Stripes?

The okapi markings, which seem very bold to us, give the animal great camouflage when hiding in the partial sunlight that filters through the dense rain forest. The stripes may also help a young okapi follow its mother through the dark forest, and they may help adults find each other, too.

The okapi’s dark purplish or reddish brown fur is dense and feels like velvet. It’s also oily, so water slides right off, keeping the okapi dry on rainy days. Only the males have horns, which are covered by skin and are short and slant backwards so they won’t get tangled in forest branches.

The okapi is a mammal belonging to the giraffe family. Also known as ‘forest giraffe’, it is native to the Ituri rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. The okapi lives a secluded life and was not discovered until 1900 by explorer Sir Harry Johnson.

It is shorter than the giraffe and has stripes on the legs, reminiscent of the zebra. The okapi is a beautiful and unusual animal. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, it looks like it must be related to zebras! But take a look at an okapi’s head, and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes.

The okapi is indeed the only living relative of the giraffe. Like a giraffe, the okapi has very large, upright ears, which catch even slight sounds, helping the animal avoid trouble. The okapi also has a long, dark, prehensile tongue, just like a giraffe’s, to help it strip the buds and young leaves from the understory brush of its rain forest home.

Content for this question contributed by Carolyn Nepple, resident of Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa, USA