The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is one of the world's most recently discovered mammals. This is largely because it is a wary and elusive creature that retreats at the slightest intrusion. Although there had been rumours of its existance many years, it was not formally described until 1901 when the naturalist Sir Harry Johnston found specimens in the Congo. Its closest relative is the giraffe, though they more closely resemble the zebra.

Unlike most animals, the males of the species of okapi are smaller than the females. They can reproduce at any time during the year, though they usually do so between May and June and between November and December. Female okapi usually give birth every 15 to 17 months. Okapi calves suckle from their mother until they are nearly ten months old.

Gestation - 421-457 days
Number of young - 1
Height at birth - 72-83cm (2.2-2.7ft) at shoulder
Weight at birth - 16kg (35lb)
Weaned - 8-10 months
Sexual maturity (males) - 4 years
Sexual maturity (females) - 3 years
Longevity in captivity - 33 years (not known in wild)

Since its discovery by whites, the population of the okapi has declined. Once common in Uganda and Zaire, it is now only found in the latter. Despite it being declared a protected species in 1933, it is very difficult to enforce in their dense habitat and poaching continues.