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Okapis

Okapis

Habitat

Ituri Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Conservation Status

Endangered

Outstanding Okapi Facts

Okapis are solitary animals that forage through the rainforest on their own. The only time two okapis are together is when they are mating, or when a mother is with her calf.

Okapis’ signature stripes blend in with the few streaks of sunlight that make their way through the dense foliage, helping them blend in. Coupled with their elusive nature, it’s not hard to see how their existence was unknown until 1907.

Although okapis may look like zebras, their only living relative is actually the giraffe! Their similarities include a long, dark-colored, prehensile tongue, and their ossicones, which are horn-like features on their head.

Challenges in the Wild

Coltan mining: The mineral, coltan is used to manufacture small electronics like cell phones and tablets. Mining for this mineral in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rainforest is accelerating deforestation and threatening gorilla habitat.

Human conflict: Civil war and illegal poaching in and around the DRC’s Ituri and Virunga rainforests – the only places in the world okapi are found – puts okapi at risk.


Dallas Zoo Saving Okapis

The Dallas Zoo supports these amazing conservation projects:


Okapi Conservation Project: The Dallas Zoo partners with the Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), which works in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to ensure the protection of the okapi. With the OCP, the Dallas Zoo is saving okapi in the wild by facilitating anti-poaching patrols in the DRC’s Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Together we are strengthening local communities with initiatives that promote okapi conservation and respect for Reserve regulations and wildlife laws and building capacity with OCP staff, ensuring that they are well trained and valued by partners and community leaders.
AZA: We also support a healthy population of okapi in human care through our work with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums as a safeguard against extinction. We have raised over 36 calves, and our breeding program is so successful that we have been able to contribute to important research about how okapi communicate with each other and their calves.
Gorillas on the Line: The Dallas Zoo also helps okapis by leading the Gorillas on the Line (GOTL) campaign, created by the Gorilla SAFE program. We collect old cell phones and other small electronics for responsible recycling, reducing the demand for coltan mining in critically endangered okapi habitat.

You Can Help Save Okapis in the Wild

Buy a Dallas Zoo membership to help save okapis in the wild.

Recycle our old cell phones and other small electronics (Drop them off here at the Zoo! We collect them at the Membership Booth as well as at the Gorilla Research Station along the Gorilla Trail.)

Purchase paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure they are sustainably sourced.