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Zoo News Blog

Celebrate World Okapi Day with Us: What is an Okapi?

Written by Mary Fields

okapi-0125-7644Happy World Okapi Day! So what is an okapi? Okapis are the only living relative of giraffes. Giraffes and okapis share several similar characteristics, including their tongue and ossicones! Both giraffes and okapis have long tongues that help them grab all the delicious plants they would ever want to eat. Okapi also have the special ability of cleaning their eyes with their tongues! Another shared characteristic is that both giraffes and male okapis have ossicones! Ossicones are the horn-like bumps on the head of giraffes and male okapis. Ossicones are also a great way to help identify our okapis at the Houston Zoo.


In 2013, okapis were listed endangered, so how can you help? Recycle your cell phone! Coltan is a mineral mined in the okapi’s native habitat. Recycling your cell phone helps minimize the mining and conserves their home! The Houston Zoo has several spots to recycle your old cell phones, including the entrances and in our African Forest. Learn more here.

This Tuesday, October 18th, is the first annual World Okapi Day! For this very special event, we will be having an Okapi Meet the Keeper chat every day at 11:00 am; Monday, October 17th through Friday, October 21st. These chats will be in front of our okapi exhibit along our west hoof run. During the chat, the okapis will be given some fun enrichment! The Houston Zoo is partnered with the Okapi Conservation Project.