Unique Relatives of Seven Famous Animals

A compilation of seven unique animals that are seldom mentioned, and always outshone by their more famous, closest relatives. Have fun knowing them.


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The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is an unusual animal living at high altitudes in the rainforests of Congo, in central Africa. It was only discovered by scientists in 1901. With white-and-black stripes on its legs, it was first thought to be some kinds of a rainforest zebra or a forest-dwelling house. However, the okapi is not related to a zebra, but guess what – it is the only living relative of the giraffe! />
Just like the giraffe, the okapi has big, upright ears, and a long dark tongue that comes in handy in grooming and stripping fruits, branches, buds and young leaves from trees. It has chocolate-brown body coat with tan-colored chest. Though shorter than a giraffe, adults stand up to 1.5 m tall at the shoulder, a body length of about 2.5 m and weigh between 200 to 300 kilograms (440 to 660 lbs). Adult males own hair-covered horns that could grow up to 15 cm long. Females are slighter taller than males and have lighter body color. Okapis have a life span of about 20 to 30 years.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

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I guess many of us know about the large and muscular hippopotamus, but do you know that it has a less popular but unique relative? Yes, and it is the Pygmy hippopotamus! It is a “never-heard” animal until the early part of the 19th century. A copycat of the much larger hippo, the Pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) lives in swampy forests of Western Africa.

In physical stature, pygmy hippo resembles its larger relative, the Nile Hippopotamus. Though half the size as compared to its relative, adult on average stand 75-83 cm at the shoulder, between 150-177 cm in body length and weigh between 180-275 kg. Unlike Nile hippopotamus, pygmy hippo has smaller pig-liked head and its eyes are situated more to the sides. It has short tail with branched hairs. The skin is smooth resembling that of a common hippo; having a brown or greenish black coat and pinkish cheeks.


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What do “laughing” hyena and aardwolf have in common? They both belong to the Hyenidae family, the former being one of the popular ones while the latter is considered the least known member. The Aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is a small, shy and nocturnal animal found in eastern and southern Africa. The aardwolf resembles the Striped hyena, but is much smaller with big, pointed nose and more slender muzzle. Its yellowish fur is marked with black stripes and with a distinctive mane around its neck.

On average, Aardwolf measures around 55–80 cm long, stands between 40–50 cm at the shoulder, and weighs up to 14 kg. It also has a long tail growing to 30 cm at the most. Its cheek teeth are very similar to the hyena, but are mainly used for eating insects.

Aardwolves live in bush land, dry plains, but are primarily sleeping in burrows during the day. By dusk, they emerge from the burrows to search for termites… their main food source. Would you believe that in a single night this unusual animal can consume about 200,000 termites with the aid of its long and sticky tongue!


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Mandrills are one of the main attractions of modern day zoos; but have you heard about its closest relative, the drill? These two monkeys are so similar in appearance with one main difference… a mandrill carries a more colorful face while a drill has a black face and a red chin to show. One of Africa’s most endangered animals, drills are found only in three countries: Nigeria, South Western Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus) are social animals, where one dominant male leads a group of about 20 females. Also, the leader acts as the father to all the young. Interacting with other groups is a normal way of life to drills. Male drills are three times heavier than females weighing up to 45 kg. At about three years old, female drills reach sexual maturity, but can only have one offspring every six years. Drill’s average life span is 28-30 years. Drills are omnivorous that feeds on grass, roots, and fruits, to small animals.

Silky Anteater

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The Giant Anteater is rather well known, but its relative the Silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), is almost never heard of. The smallest anteater in the world, silky anteater lives in the tropical forests of southern Mexico, Bolivia and parts of Brazil. It is a solitary, slow moving tree-dwelling nocturnal animal that is seldom seen. It sleeps during the day curled up in a ball, and emerges during the night to search for ants and other insects. Using its long sticky tongue, silky anteater can consume up to 8000 ants in a night.

The Silky Anteater normally measures between 36 and 45 centimeters and weighs less than 400 g. It has a soft and silky golden brown fur. Also, silky anteater has short stout, two big curved claws in each forepaw, and a prehensile tail. Females give birth to a single young where both parents care for the offspring.


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Looking at the picture above, I bet you will be misled that a Hyrax is a rodent-type animal. But do you know that the nearest relative of this unique creature is the elephant! Both elephants and hyraxes share some anatomical and physiological features. Both live in arid lands, feed on plants, rubbery toe pads and tusks.

There are four extant species of Hyrax namely: The Rock Hyrax, the Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax, the Western Tree Hyrax, and the Southern Tree Hyrax. Hyraxes are found in Africa and the Middle East. They are furry animals with short tails. Hyrax averages between 30–70 cm long and weighs between 2–5 kg. They live in small family groups where a dominant male leads the group. Hyrax diet includes: fruits, leaves, insects and birds’ eggs Females give birth to up to four young.

Crab-eating Racoon

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Many are familiar with the infamous common raccoon, but have you heard about the Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), its close but seldom mentioned relative. Found in South and Central America, crab-eating raccoons live near bodies of water such as streams, lakes and rivers searching for crabs, frogs, fish, shellfish and other freshwater animals.

An average crab-eating raccoon grows between 41 to 60 cm in body length and weighs between 2 to 12 kg. Just like its cousin the Common Raccoon, it has short, rounded ears; a bushy tail and small eyes mark with the popular “bandit’s mask” black eye patches. But unlike its relative, crab-eating raccoon has thinner fur and spends most its time in water (semi-aquatic).

50 thoughts on “Unique Relatives of Seven Famous Animals


    This post reminds me of my visit with different zoos with my kids during their school field trips. It's s nice tohave a close interaction to animals. Thanks for this very informative post. 🙂

  2. Natalie Jill Lim

    Very interesting post.. Im really not so familiar of this but somehow got new infos thru this.. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Chubskulit Rose

    The Okapi looks really unique! Did not see any of these during our recent visit to the zoo.

  4. Swexie

    It came as a surprise that the Okapi is not a relative of Zebra, I thought that it was across between a zebra and something else, a donkey maybe? Hahaha! Is a pygmy hippopotamus as fierce as the Nile Hippopotamus?

  5. Marriage and Beyond

    photographers of these animals are really good. Galing ng mga compositions. Informative post, as always.

  6. Tingting de Rimarti

    The only animal that I am familiar with is the raccoon. The house I used to live was near a wooded area. I saw raccoon too many times, but I do not know if they are the crab-eating type.

  7. Ria Cervantes

    The first picture that looks like a zebra/horse/donkey is really interesting Kuya. I didn't know that such an animal exist.

  8. mhie @ Travelentz

    That's why I love to go in the zoo and I have a chance to see all the animals in person, the Silky Anteater is new to me so I have to keep my eye open when we go in the zoo.

  9. Marie Michel

    Really interesting information here! I will show this to my kids, they love trivia, animals and generally anything under the sun. Thanks for sharing!

  10. lencilicious

    I've seen some of them in the zoo but never got the chance to look this up close.

  11. Janine Daquio

    Seeing them in pictures fascinate me. but whenever i imagine to see it in person, it sends shiver to my spine. 0,,O

  12. Rochkirstin Santos

    Whoa these animals look quite different from the ones we are familiar with. I would love to bring home a doll of Pygmy hippopotamus. I bet the real one stinks haha but it's so cute!

  13. Aileen Joy Bobadilla

    Every time that I visit your blog, it never seize to amaze me, you never seize to amaze me with the new information that you seems to throw us once in a while. I'm an animal lover and to see different species like in this post makes me think, that there are probably a lot of animals out there waiting, or not, to be discovered.

  14. Teresa Martinez

    The silky anteater is actually very cute. No wonder it's seldom seen as it spends most of daytime asleep.

  15. Franc Ramon

    It's good to learn about these 7 unique and mostly endangered animals. I hope I get to see some in zoos too.

  16. Chasing Jayce

    My niece and I loved looking at the pictures of these animals. She particularly likes the drill, hyrax and crab-eating racoon. 🙂

  17. Raine Pal

    This is another great list of different kinds of animals. I didn't know that these animals were related to animals I've heard of before.

  18. Karen @ MrsLookingGood

    OMG! The drill has definitely caught my attention. Hindi ko kinaya ang LGBT color sa butt nya. hehe

  19. Jhoveleen

    I was amused of looking at the raccoon. They look like a cat. Are they attacking the people who get closer with them?

  20. Chubskulit Rose

    Oh I wanna see an Okapi! Love the striped part. And the Grill, nice butt. LOL! Are those really true?! Must be super-duper-extra endangered species. 😛

  21. Karen @ MrsLookingGood

    Very informative post! The drill caught my interest. The facial markings are unique and so are the colorful markings on the animal's behind.

  22. Prasad Np

    another bits of info…ikaw na talaga…so may family pa pala si giraffe at elephant…now i know. 😛 natuwa talaga ako sa post na ito. hehehe

  23. Tiffany Yong W.T.

    very interesting post, I have never actually heard or read about most of them. The Giraffe relative is sure one of the most unique creature

  24. TweenselMom

    The drill has such a colourful butt! Was it dyed by the keepers? I know baboons have red butts but never knew drills can have colourful ones!

  25. Franc

    what an interesting post. i've already read the aardwolf but didn't know it looks like that.

  26. Manu Kalia

    It's nice reading about this unique creatures. Funny how they resemble their cousins yet are really more unique in their own right.

  27. Fred Hawson

    I didn't know this things, Glad you shared this, my kids would love to know this too.

  28. Eliz Frank

    Silky anteater so cute and cuddly. I did not know that mandrills can also be called drills only. Another very informative article.

  29. Don Martins

    Fascinating subject! That crap eating raccoon legs reminds me of a kangaroos legs and the drill has quite the rainbow on its behind. Ha!

  30. Nicol

    The Okapi and the Drill are such colorful animals, I never knew such spectacular creatures ever existed! It is a real pleasure to explore nature through your site!

  31. Sin Yee

    I've seen those Racoons before at Iguazú national park! They're cute and playful little creatures. That horse/zebra looks freaky!

  32. Karen

    I can't deny the most eye-catching one is drill's butt. Never think an animal have colorful butt.. opps~ thanks for this informative post.

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