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What’s an okapi? Sacramento Zoo’s newest addition has giraffe ancestry and a zebra’s behind

Preparing for Okapi at the Sacramento Zoo

The zoo is debuting its new exhibit containing two okapis Feb. 15. It’ll make the first zoo in Northern California to house okapis, according to a news release announcing the opening.
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The zoo is debuting its new exhibit containing two okapis Feb. 15. It’ll make the first zoo in Northern California to house okapis, according to a news release announcing the opening.

The newest additions to the Sacramento Zoo will look like they’re wearing zebra pants, but they actually share more common ancestry with giraffes.

The zoo is debuting its new exhibit containing two okapis Friday, Feb. 15. It’ll make Land Park zoo the first in Northern California to house okapis, according to a news release announcing the opening.

Okapis, also called forest giraffes, are ungulate mammals native to Central Africa. They have a brown coat with white stripes on their legs and hindquarters.

Although okapis are related to giraffes, and they’re the only two living members of the Giraffidae family, okapis don’t have long necks or similar coats to giraffes.

The zoo opens 9 a.m. next Friday and zoo officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., the news release said. Okapi keeper Melissa McCartney will be on-hand.

The zoo is offering a $1 discount on admission from Feb. 15 to 18 to any guest wearing striped clothing as a celebration of the new addition.

The Sacramento Zoo’s most recent animal addition was an all-female clan of meerkats, which arrived in November.

Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.

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