Okapi, Okapia johnstoni
October 2009

SDZ Global Logo

Okapi mother and offspring

(Benirschke & Hagey 2006) (Colbert 1938) (Daag & Forster 1982) (Spinage 1968)

Describer (Date):P.L. Sclater (1901) Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1901 vol. I p. 50

Kingdom: Animal
    Phylum: Chordata
         Class: Mammalia
             Order: Artiodactyla* (nearly 200 species of even-toed, hoofed mammals)
                 Suborder: Ruminantia (cud-chewing cattle, goats, sheep, bison, giraffes and more)
                     Family: Giraffidae (only two species - giraffes and okapis)
                         Genus: Giraffa camelopardalis (giraffe)
                         Genus: Okapi (okapi)
                             Species: Okapia johnstoni

*New anatomical and DNA evidence on the relationship between Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) and Cetacea (whales and dolphins) recently led to a merging of the two orders into a new group, Cetartiodactyla (Montgelard, 1997; reviewed in Kulemzina, 2009). As of October 2012, experts had not agreed on whether to define Cetartiodactyla as an official taxonomic order that would replace Artiodactyla and Cetacea. Some continue to list okapi in the order Artiodactyla (Franklin, 2011) or use the term Cetartiodactyla without defining it as an order (IUCN, 2008).

Taxonomy and Phylogeny.
(Hart & Hart 1988) (IUCN Redlist 2008) (Bodmer & Gubista 1988)

  • Endemic to forests of Democratic Republic of Congo, occurring between about 500 m and 1,500 m elevation on both sides of the Congo River.
  • Okapi populations in the Ituri / Aruwimi and adjacent Nepoko basin forests, and the forests of the upper Lindi, Maiko and Tshopo Basins; also well known in the Rubi-Tele region in Bas Uele. (IUCN Redlist 2008)
  • Limited to closed, high canopy forests, occurring in a wide range of primary and older secondary forest types.
  • Okapi don't range into gallery forests or into forest islands on the savanna and they don't stay in the disturbed habitats surrounding human settlements.
  • Will occupy seasonally flooded areas when the ground is still wet, but they do not occur in truly wet sites or extensive swamp forest.
  • Tree fall gaps are selected foraging sites for okapi during the early stages of regeneration (Hart & Hart 1989).
  • Link to IUCN map


distribution map
Okapi distribution.
Adapted from www.d-maps.com
according to IUCN fact sheet
Click here for detailed distribution (IUCN)

(Bodmer & Rabb 1992) (Colbert,1938) (Dagg & Foster 1982) (Grzimek 1990) (Hart 2013) (Lindsey et al 1999)

Weight (Hart 2013) Shoulder Height (Hart 2013) Length: 2.5 m (8 ft) average for both sexes General Pelage Sexual Dimorphism
(Bodmer & Gubista 1988) (Dagg 1960) (Hart 1992) (Hart & Hart 1988) (Lindsey et al 1999)

Activity Cycle

        Daily Pattern Social Group

       Territorial Behavior         Aggression Locomotion (Lindsey et al 1999) (Dagg 1960) Play Communication

        Displays           Vocalization (Bodmer & Rabb 1992)         Olfactory signals Intraspecies Interaction (Spinage 1968) (Bodmer & Rabb 1992)
(Bodmer & Gubista 1988) (Bodmer & Rabb 1992) (Crissey et al 2001) (Hart 1992) (Hart & Hart 1988)

(Bodmer & Rabb 1992)

Courtship Life Stages

        Birth         Infant         Adult Longevity
(Gijzen & Smet 1974) (ISIS Web Site)

(Gijzen & Smet 1974) (Hart and Mwinyihali 2001) (IUCN Redlist 2008)
Threats to Survival
Other Web Resources

©2009 San Diego Zoo Global. Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to library@sandiegozoo.org.

Return to the Fact Sheet Index