The okapi has a striking visual appearance and unique color pattern that allows it to disappear into the background of dense vegetation and rotting leaves where it lives.
The okapi has a striking visual appearance.
The body is a generally dark chocolate-brown velvety pelage that contrasts with the tapered white or creamy white horizontal stripes on the rear haunches and upper front legs. The white coloring continues across the anklets and stockings on the lower legs. The cheeks, throat, and the distal ventrum are white, grey, or tan and provide additional contrast to the dark reddish brown to black colors of the back and sides.
The hairs of the okapi’s white stripes are longer than the hairs in the dark stripes.
The unique color pattern of the okapi allows it to disappear into the background of dense vegetation and rotting leaves where it lives. Okapi also have poor eyesight and the coloring can help guide calves. Young okapi rely on the white coloring of the anklets and stockings on the lower legs of the okapi to contrast against the dark forest, thus allowing them to easily follow behind.