OK Okapi – What the Hell Are You?

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must define their identity. While many behaviorist psychologists dismiss the objective value of psychometric analyses such as the fabled Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one cannot simply rule out the importance of self-reporting. Juxtaposing these subjective results alongside the viewpoints of impartial observers helps to determine the disconnect between perceived truth and reality. To further obfuscate matters, the limitless number of quantitative and qualitative data points can render false positives and create contradictions depending on their usage.

Confused yet?

We here at The PO Life have simplified matters, boiling down a world of complexities and information overload into three qualifying questions:

  1. Do you like the Animaniacs or do you not like the Animaniacs?
  2. Are you a man or a muppet?
  3. Are you a giraffe, horse, zebra, or neither?

Until now, classification was easy. For instance, I’m a DNLA/MA/N (do not like the animaniacs, man, neither). Then, this thing came along and decided to screw our perfect system up.

Okapi

For those of you unfamiliar with the mascot for the International Society for Cryptozoology (I’d link to them, but you receive a 404 error from 1985 if you go to their website), the thing you’re looking at above is an Okapi. What the hell is an Okapi you ask? I thought you’d never ask.

According to Wikipedia (the most trusted name in news), the Okapi “is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa.” First off, if you understood more than six words in the narrative, then you probably already know what an Okapi is. But for the more fortunate, let’s do a deeper dive.

The Okapi was first discovered in the late 1800s by Henry Morton Stanley during his infamous west African adventure to find a missing Scottish explorer by the name of Dr. David Livingstone. Chronicled in the underground classic Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingstone for original NES, Stanley’s adventures included “shooting Africans as if they were monkeys”, offering girls to cannibals, and cutting off the tails of dogs, cooking those same tails, and serving the charred remains back to their original owners.

On a lighter note, here are some cool facts about the Okapi:

Q: So why does its butt look like a zebra?

A: The okapi’s zebra-esque butt serves two main purposes. First, it serves as an optical illusion in the jungle. Predators have been known to place the end of their nose against the okapi’s hide, slowly back up while fixating their stare on a point in the middle of the okapi’s rear end, and finally, letting their eyes cross. Only then does the image of the Statue of Liberty appear.

The second reason for the zebra butt is so that young okapi can follow their mother’s through the jungle with relative ease. Okapis are the Bar Rafaelis of the jungle world. You’d never hear Sir Mix-a-Lot touting about their big behinds because, in a sense, they’re non-existent. To compensate for its shortcomings, Okapis do what any self-conscious woman would and accentuate it with a flashy print.

Q: Wait, I thought you said this thing was part giraffe? Where does that come into play?

A: While the Okapi doesn’t have the token long neck of its cousin, it does feature a prehensile blue tongue used to destroy any and all foliage in its way. I’ll dismiss the fact that their tongue is in fact blue and rather focus on its overall usage. Avid PO Life reader and commenter Lauren Faber once cemented herself in the history of PO storytelling by licking my eyeball one fateful night in college. While at the time it only furthered my disdain for all things optical, I bypassed the kind gesture she bestowed upon me.

The eye, like every other part of the body, collects dust build-up over time and needs cleaning. Lauren was simply doing a favor for me that we humans cannot do for ourselves – lick our own eyeballs. The okapi have mastered this science and taken it to a new level. Their tongue is also capable of reaching both inner ear canals and most likely triggers unintended physical turn-ons as a result.

Co-eds doing their best Okapi impression

Q: OK, so besides their own ear wax, what do okapis eat?

A: Here’s where shit gets bananas (metaphorically, they’re not monkeys, remember? Stanley apparently shot all of those, along with any black people he came across). Rather than pulling a Roy Hobbs and crafting a Louisville Slugger out of the remains of an electrified tree, okapis eat the charcoal debris left behind. That’s right – you could raise an Okapi in your very own backyard with nothing but your leftover bag of Kingsford from the Fourth of July. (Editor’s note from The PO Life legal team: Before buying an okapi for recreational use, please consult with your local ordinances regarding exotic pet ownership.)

Beyond those facts, the okapi is a mystery. It looks like you could ride it like a horse, but it’s nimble legs would probably give out before you could ride it in to battle. It’s got a zebra butt, but it abruptly stops once you get to the torso. It didn’t inherit the long neck of a giraffe, but if you looked inside it’s mouth, you’d never know the difference. So the jury is out on this one.

An estimated 20,000 okapi remain in the wild and are very clever at hiding from both natural predators and human poachers. Despite their conservation status being downgraded from “endangered” to “near threatened” in recent years, these creatures still need your help. Write your Congressman to expand conservation funding to include the protection of these beautiful specimens. Petition ZooBooks to do a full color spread so that the next generation of African explorers can appreciate their natural beauty en route to committing genocide. Tweet Sarah McLachlan to do her next tearjerking Comedy Central late-night animal rights campaign on the okapi. Or at least use your FONZ membership to pull some strings and get the National Zoo to adopt an okapi. I paid the $60 entrance fee for Brew in the Zoo, didn’t I? The least they could do is show me a giraffe-horse-zebra.

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