I knew from the very beginning that this animal had to be in the book. When I was young I loved horses and similar looking animals like most girls do. My family would often visit the zoo, and there was an okapi exhibit. I quickly decided that this purple zebra-horse-giraffe thing was my favorite animal of all time, and the fact that it was a challenge to find each time we visited only made it cooler in my mind. As a matter of fact, the cool factor in trying to find the hidden okapi as a kid was part of what inspired me to hide the letters on each page to find.
Despite being striped like a zebra, they are the only living relative of the giraffe. They live in the Ituri rain- forest of Africa. They may not look super camouflaged based on a picture, but in the wild they are very difficult to spot. Even at the zoo it is easy to stare right at an okapi and miss it! Their fur is purplish to reddish brown or black, and waterproof from the oils in it. Their rump stripes are called “follow me stripes” because they help a baby okapi stay with its mom. They make calls, but they are too deep for most predators, and us, to hear. Okapis keep to themselves, so they were not discovered until 1900! Today there are estimated to be about 25,000 in the wild. These mysterious animals are fascinating!