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.
The okapi is the closest living relative to the giraffe and shares many similarities with the long-necked animal, including a long, violet-black tongue and an elongated neck that help it reach the foliage from trees and shrubs. Nicknamed the “forest giraffe,” this unusual ungulate is endemic to the central forests of Africa and are shy, elusive creatures that prefer to hide away in solitary in the jungle’s dense vegetation. Because of their reclusive lifestyle, much of what is known about okapis has been observed in zoos. Listed as Endangered okapi face threats from habitat disturbance and hunting.