Friday Sketchbook: No More Opera for Okapis

Okapi, Copenhagen Zoo. Apparently, some okapis don't handle Wagner well- in 1994 a nearby performance of Tannhauser by the Royal Opera resulted in the stress death of one the okapis.
Okapi, Copenhagen Zoo. Apparently not big Wagner fans. Watercolor over pencil, 8 1/2″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook.

While we drew the okapis today at the Copenhagen zoo, my friend told me a startling story. Okapis are rare African forest-dwelling relatives of the giraffe and sensitive animals. Very sensitive. Twenty years ago the Royal Theatre staged a performance at the zoo of selections from Wagner’s Tannhauser. They were just practicing their high notes when one of the nearby okapis, a six-year-old female named Katanda, came unglued.

A little figure-sketching in the chimpanzee house, Copenhagen Zoo.
A little figure-sketching in the chimpanzee house, Copenhagen Zoo The burly alpha male was at the far end of the enclosure, intimidating the other males, but the females were hanging out peaceably. There was a moment when one female hinted to another she’d like a taste of her snack, but dropped the issue when the hint went nowhere. Pencil on 8 1/2″ x 11″ Robert Bateman sketchbook.

Wagner can have that effect on people, too.

Baby hippos!
Baby hippos down for their nap, monitored by a large and vigilant mom. Inordinately cute huge pink and gray babies, and you just want to give them a hug. Pencil on 8 1/2″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook

Long story short, the stressed-out okapi expired on the spot. Naturally, I wanted to confirm this strange tale of sturm und drang, and found this from the Associated Press,  and this, too.

White Rhinos
White Rhinos at the Copenhagen Zoo. Pencil on 8 1/2″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook

In the enclosure with us a portable boom box provided a little music for the okapis. They seemed fine with the musical choice. It was rock and roll.

Happy Friday.

 

4 thoughts on “Friday Sketchbook: No More Opera for Okapis

  1. zeladoniac says:

    I feel the same way, dinahmow. The okapis seemed to be soothed by the music, which was kept at low volume, at least. Thanks for the note!

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