The Okapi was discovered in 1900 in the Congolese rainforests. The museum received this adult male on 20 January 1916 from Dr Christy who had purchased it from the distinguished taxidermists E. Gerrard and Sons of London.
Originating in the Ituri Forest of the Congo Free State (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) the specimen had made its long journey to Australia via Britain. While the Okapi is now endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been suggested the animal also formerly occurred in neighbouring Uganda.
The Okapi’s closest relative is the giraffe, although its striped hindquarters and shape would indicate otherwise. Like the giraffe the Okapi has a long, prehensile tongue. The Okapi weighs a third as much as a giraffe, and stands only slightly over a third of its height. As the Okapi is a browser at the edge of the rainforest, it does not need the long neck of a savannah animal.
Today, while the Okapi is not listed as a threatened species, it is protected in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its numbers are estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Habitat removal would be the main concern for its continued existence. The museum’s single mount is believed to be the only Australian example.