What the Okapi?

Mangesh Hattikudur

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I love animals, ridiculous creatures that they are. So, why is it that it's taken me so long to hear about the Okapi? Apparently, the animal, which looks like a missing link between the zebra and the horse, resides in the Ituri rainforest of central Africa. Of course, I looked up the entry on wikipedia thanks to our friends at neatorama, and was so in disbelief that I double-checked the thing on Britannica. Apparently, it exists. In any case, here are a few facts culled straight from everyone's favorite "˜pedia, just in case you too missed out on the huge okapi fad of the early 1900s.

  • Although it bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe.
  • The tongue of an okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears.
  • Okapis are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed.
  • The first Okapi to arrive in North America was at the Bronx Zoo in 1937.
  • Apparently, in the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series, Arthur Dent's brother was said to have been nibbled to death by an okapi. The exact circumstances that brought this fate about were left unclear.

Also, a pair supposedly make an appearance in Evan Almighty-- the first two good reasons I've heard to see the flick.