Okapis use tree rubbing, feces, and dance-like crossed-legged movements while urinating to mark their territory, doing so most often during courtship.
Okapi calves are born with a conspicuous mane and long, “false eyelashes” around their eyes that are largely lost by adulthood.
Social grooming and play behavior, such as tail wagging and rolling on the ground, is common in both sexes and all age classes of okapi, though infants play more frequently than adults.
Like the giraffe and unlike other ungulates, the okapi simultaneously steps with the front and hind leg on the same side of the body.
After a 440-day gestation period, female okapis retreat into dense forest vegetation to give birth to a single newborn calf weighing 14-20 kg.
The okapi’s lifespan is about 15-33 years in captivity, but data from wild populations is unavailable.
The most giraffe-like feature of the okapi is the long, dark blue-violet, prehensile tongue which is used for plucking from trees and shrubs as well as for grooming.
Okapi keep defined, non-exclusive, overlapping home ranges with males maintaining more land than females and breeding females having more stable ranges.
Male okapi possess ossicones, a pair of supraorbital, hair-covered frontal horns that can grow up to 15 cm in length and incline posteriodorsally from the skull.
The okapi is the only species of forest ungulate to depend on understory foliage and feeds on more than 100 species of vegetation, many of which are poisonous to humans.
There is sexual dimorphism in the okapi as females are taller and slightly more red than males, have smaller home ranges, and lack the frontal horns that males possess.
The okapi differs from its nearest extant relative, the giraffe, in habitat, size, proportion, coloration, vocalizations, and other distinguishable features.
Okapi were previously thought to be nocturnal, but are now considered diurnal with 30-50% of their day spent resting, and foraging occurring in the mid-morning or late afternoon.
Okapi are limited to closed, high canopy forests and dense rainforests and frequent river banks and stream beds.
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.
Okapis are endemic to the tropical rainforests of northeastern Zaire and are generally limited to altitudes between 450 and 1,000 meters.
In the wild, okapi are mainly solitary and occur alone or in mother-offspring pairs, usually only coming together for mating.
The okapi is a medium-sized giraffid resembling a horse and averaging 2.5 m long, 1.5 m tall at the shoulder, and 250 kg.
Although the okapi falls under the Giraffidae family and is related to the giraffe, some researchers debate it’s a closer relative to the nilgai antelope in the Bovidae family.
The okapi has larger, more flexible ears and a relatively longer neck than other ruminants, perhaps correlated with locomotor coordination of the giraffid pacing gait.
The brachyodont teeth of okapi are like other paleotragines, but it has smaller incisors and larger cheek teeth.
The okapi’s scientific name, Okapia johnstoni, is a combination of the pygmy word, O’Api and a tribute to the okapi’s 1901 western discoverer, Sir Harry Johnston.
Female beluga whales become sexually mature before males, at 4-7 years, and reproduce every 2-3 years until about 20 years of age.
Beluga whale calves are able to swim alongside their mothers from birth but are totally dependent on them for the first year of life.
Beluga whales have a loose, fatty region on top of their head, called a melon, that is critical for echolocation.
Beluga whales deliver their offspring in river mouths because the waters are warmer for their calves that lack fully developed blubber.
Male beluga whales live longer than females at about 40 years compared to 32 years and belugas in captivity live longer than those in the wild.
Only 5-10% of a beluga whale’s time is spent at the surface of the water and they are rarely seen breaching.
Beluga whales are among the most vocal species of cetaceans and use their vocalizations for echolocation, mating, and communication.
Beluga whales have the most varied diet of any small whale feeding on over 100 species of fish and invertebrates, and their diet changes depending on season, location, and water temperature.
Predation from killer whales, polar bears, and humans, as well as ice entrapment, are common causes of premature death of beluga whales.