Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's Make It A Conservation Christmas; Okapi

This holiday season, we thought we would celebrate by spotlighting a few species in desperate need of saving and the fantastic organization working towards that goal.  As always, we ask that you help our conservation partners, but during the season of giving we wanted to focus on a few other organizations as well. It’s our “Conservation Christmas” series!

The Ituri forest is a dense rain forest in Central Africa. It is famous to Animal Kingdom fans as the home of one of the star of the Pangani stars, the okapi. They are hard to find. Western science did not know of its existence until after 1900 although the natives obviously knew it well. Westerners believed it to be a folk tale until proof came along. After all, who would believe a half zebra, half giraffe lived deep in the jungle. Of course, its not related to zebra at all. Instead, it merely shares a similar coloration on its hindquarters to help with camouflage in the broken light of the rain forest. It is, however, a relative to the giraffe.

Recently, the okapi was reclassified as endangered, and it is thought less than 25,000 animals can be found in their African home. Thus, its important that places like Disney's Animal Kingdom help protect the species. Our friends at the Okapi Conservation project also are important. Its managed by the White Oak Conservation Center in Jacksonville, FL and has raised more than $15 million for conservation since it started. It helps with research, education and community outreach programs designed to save the okapi.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

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