What animals are shorter than the giraffe

Who or what are okapis?

Ever heard of okapis? Seen from a distance, okapis look like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra. But what kind of animals are okapis? Nala, 11 years old, would like to know that too.

Okapis are similar to their relatives, the giraffes, but have a short neck.Source: © Marcl Schauer, Shutterstock.

Okapis remained undiscovered for a long time, as they lead a very hidden way of life and can only be found in certain rainforest areas in the central African country of Zaire. They belong to the genus of short-necked giraffes and actually have much shorter necks than their tall relatives. In 1901 the first photo of an okapi was published.

Out and about in the pass

The relationship to the giraffes is obvious. Okapi males have the same fur-sheathed horns as the giraffes. Her legs are striped like a zebra while the rest of her body is brownish in color. Like the long-necked giraffes, the okapis are cloven-hoofed and move forward in the passageway. This means that they move their two right and two left legs alternately at the same time.


The okapis' tongue is so long that it can even reach their eyes. Gourmets use it to pick carefully selected grasses, leaves, buds, fruits and mushrooms. Okapis are ruminants, which means that they digest their food in a four-chambered stomach, which during the digestive process brings the chewed chew back into the mouth for re-chewing.


Okapis live solitary and only come together to mate. After a 14 to 15 month gestation period, female okapi give birth to a young. The fur of the young animals is initially black and only gets its typical color in adulthood. In zoos, okapis can live up to 30 years.

Under species protection

How many okapis there are still in the wild is difficult to say because the animals live so hidden. They have been under species protection since 1933. Around 80 okapis live in zoos around the world. In Germany, for example, you can visit them in the Zoological Garden in Cologne.

You can find out more about exciting animals in WAS IST WAS Volume 13 Wilde Tiere. Untamed in the wild