Two rare Sichuan takin (rhymes with rockin’) have joined our family at Lee Richardson Zoo. These unusual looking creatures suggest a combination of wildebeest, bison, and sheep, with their stocky body, “sumo wrestler” gait, and shaggy golden coat. Recently arrived from the San Diego Zoo, four year old Oliver and seven year old Louie have settled right in and are confounding the camels, who, like our visitors, are wondering what moved in next door. Takin are actually most closely related to sheep.
The species is listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss and poaching. They live in high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains and China in habitats ranging from alpine meadows and rocky outcroppings to mixed forests. Takin are well adapted to cold climates, with a heavy winter coat and enlarged sinus cavities in their nose to warm the frigid mountain air before it reaches their lungs.
They are on display in Wild Asia in the former Pere’ David deer exhibit, and can be viewed daily during the zoo’s hours of 8 am - 5 pm. The zoo vehicle gate is open from 10 am-4 pm.