The Elusive Okapi

Years ago, my daughter and I visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  As far as zoos go, I enjoyed it.  I have two distinct memories of our visit, one is of the Bornean Orangutans and the other is of the Okapis.  According to NG (Oct 2011):

The Okapi Can Clean Its Ears with Its Tongue

What has the head of a giraffe, a body like a horse, stripes like a zebra, and a blue tongue long enough to clean its own ears.  This shy African herbivore kept the world guessing until 1901, when it was identified as a new genus of giraffe:  Okapia johnstoni.  Today roughly 15,000 are believed to roam the wild, but they’re famously hard to spot in the forest’s sun-dappled undergrowth.  “We still don’t know much about them,” says Steve Shurter of the White Oak Conservation Center, which runs an okapi breeding facility in Florida and helps manage the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Mining and human migration there threaten critical habitat for the okapis, but for now, they persist in quiet mystery.  –Amanda Fiegl

What remains of the okapi’s natural habitat is near where I work in Uganda.  Someday, I would like to cross the border and visit the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Congo.  However, in the meantime, I’ going to visit the White Oak Conservation Center in northern Florida.

The Okapi’s Range in the Congo

Postscript:  I did make it to the White Oaks C.C., but the Okapis were not accessible.  We did see one the next day at the Jacksonville, Florida, zoo.  And this summer (2019), my daughter’s family saw several at the San Diego Zoo.

Okapis at the San Diego Zoo

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1 Response to The Elusive Okapi

  1. Pingback: Gotta Love a Giraffe | Tired Road Warrior

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