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It may be neither a unicorn nor a dinosaur, but the African okapi, which appears to be a strange combination of giraffe and zebra, was nonetheless long rumored to be a “mythical animal.”
While its existence was originally confirmed at the beginning of last century, images of the okapi in the wild remained nonexistent—until now. The new images are thanks to work by the Zoological Society of London and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, and were taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the only place the okapi is known to live in the wild.
Images of the okapi in the wild remained nonexistent—until now.
Noelle Kumpel, manager of the Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Program at the Zoological Society of London, took the pictures via 18 prearranged cameras. “To have captured the first-ever photographs of such a charismatic creature is amazing,” she commented. The difficulty of photographing okapis in the past has been in a large part due to their acute hearing and effective camouflage.
In three images released, an okapi is shown looking toward the camera, walking away from the camera, and—in a photo taken at night—an okapi is shown standing with its side to the camera. The pictures together showcase the okapi’s giraffe-like face and legs, horse-like neck, and famous zebra stripes on its hind legs.
The okapi oddity can remind us of two important ideas: first, that today’s animals are descended from the original created kinds in Genesis, and thus the similarities between giraffes, zebras, and okapis may be explained by common descent—but only as far as a created kind, not back to an amoeba.
Second, the existence of the okapi reminds us that some creatures may have eluded human contact for years—even, perhaps, the last living dinosaurs (if, indeed, they are extinct). This would help explain stories of dinosaur-like creatures even in the past millennium.
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