Okapi are a fascinating animal often referred to as the ‘Forest Giraffe’ due to their Zebra-like stripes and Giraffe-esque tongue. YWP is home to male Nuru and young female Ruby. They arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in May 2018.
Okapi are even-toed ungulate mammals native to the northeastern rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Okapi are shy, solitary and elusive animals. They use their long tongue to strip leaves from tree branches and shrubbery in the lower canopy. Their most defining feature includes the horizontal black and white stripes found around their rump and upper forelegs. Male okapis average around 2.5 metres (about 8 feet) long and stand about 1.5 metres (about 5 feet) at the shoulder. Adult males typically weigh around 250–300kg (about 650 pounds). Adult females are slightly taller and weigh a little more than adult males. The IUCN Red List classifies the species as an Endangered in the wild. Latest estimate predict fewer than 4,500 individuals live in the wild with the population drastically falling by over 40% between 1995 and 2007. The species is most concentrated in the forests of the Ituri, Aruwimi and Nepoko basins. Okapi are vulnerable to large-scale intensive disturbances such as tree logging and human settlement. In some regions Okapi are also hunted using cable snares for their skins and meat.
It is hoped that when Nuru and Ruby reach sexual maturity they will be able to mate and help bolster the number of Okapi within the European breeding programme. At present these are less than 70 Okapi within the programme across Europe.
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