100 years – 100 Objects: Okapia johnstoni

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dan, the museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating animals in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org- throughout the year.

CHI_5405 resizeThis is one of a handful of Okapis (Okapia johnstoni) exhibited in a U.S. museum, and this particular specimen was donated by Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.

The Congo Basin of Africa, which is the region Okapis are restricted to, is characterized by civil unrest and political instability, with rural people often unsure of what tomorrow will bring, let alone where their next meal will come from.  Consequently, wildlife of this region is highly threatened due to the bush meat trade, where wildlife is harvested unsustainably for European markets in order to make ends meet in an otherwise destitute economy.

Range across seven biomes to explore the entire continent of Africa in the Evelyn and Herbert Frensley Hall of African Wildlife and Graham Family Presentation of Ecology and Conservation Biomes, a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating exhibition – as well as the other objects we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

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About Dan

As curator of vertebrate zoology, Dr. Brooks has more backbone(s) than anyone at the Museum! He is recognized internationally as the authority on Cracids - the most threatened family of birds in the Americas. With an active research program studying birds and mammals of Texas and the tropics, Brooks advises several grad students internationally. At HMNS, Brooks served as project manager of the world-renowned Frensley-Graham Hall of African Wildlife, overseeing building by an incredibly diverse array of talent by some 50 individuals. He has also created and/or served as curator for various traveling exhibits, including "Cracids: on Wings of Peril".

One thought on “100 years – 100 Objects: Okapia johnstoni

  1. My little one is a HUGE Okapi fan – thanks to the Houston Zoo. She even sleeps with a stuffed Okapi at night – quite the devotee.

    I never realized that HMNS had a specimen! We’ll be sure to visit next time :)

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