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The Okapi (or "forest giraffe") is a solitary, giraffe-like mammal found in rainforests of the upper Congo River Basin in central Africa. This nocturnal (most active at night) animal was only discovered by scientists in the early 1900's. Okapi have a life span of 15 to 20 years in captivity.
Anatomy: The Okapi's coat is deep reddish-brown; it has zebra-like stripes on its hindquarters and upper legs. The neck is shorter than that of a giraffe, and the okapi is much smaller than the giraffe. It is about 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulders and weighs about 450 to 550 pounds (200-250 kg). The Okapi has a long, sticky tongue which it uses to get leaves and for grooming - its can even lick its eyes with its tongue.
Diet: The Okapi is an herbivore (a plant-eater). It eats leaves, shoots, fruit, and berries, spending most of its time eating. Okapi are ruminants; they swallow their food without chewing it. After a while, they regurgitate a partly-digested "cud" which they chew and then swallow for the last time.
Classification: Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla (even-toed hooves), Family Giraffidae (giraffes and okapi), Genus Okapia, species johnstoni .
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