Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Sweet Zoo Chums, the Takin

Dear George,
I find myself going to the Zoo more often these days.  It’s just intrinsically pleasurable.  The flora is remarkable, and, of course, watching the animals and birds is rewarding.  There are many highlights, but I think my number one place is the Wilderness Canyon.  It features a Sumatran Rhino, Bactrian Camels, Red River Hogs, Prezewalski’s Horses, an Emu, and several Takin. 

Though I’d never heard of them before, I’d have to say that the Takin are now my favorites.  They are lively animals, and they are as cute as Muppets or even Old English Sheepdogs. They like bumping heads with one another, or, in the absence of an adversary, against a sturdy post which stands in their yard.  In the wilds, Takin are mountain animals.  They come from China, Burma (now Myanmar), and Bhutan where they are the national animal.  On average they’re about three and a half feet tall and weigh 600 or more pounds.  Their coats are yellowy brown, and it’s been speculated that the legend of the “Golden Fleece” sought by Jason and the Argonauts was inspired by the Golden Takin.  They’re related to musk oxen, sheep, and goats.  Biologists classify them as goat-antelopes.  They eat twigs, leaves, and bamboo shoots, and they love salt.  Takin fossils have been dated back 1.6 million years.  Today they are considered “vulnerable”, with two of their four sub-species “endangered”. 

Recently a female Takin (named Mulan) was born to parents Xena and Noah at our zoo.  I haven’t been able to get a picture of Mulan yet, but here’s the rest of the crew.

SOURCES: ("International Wildlife Encyclopedia, pp. 2622-23); ("Takin"); (“Takin”); (“Takin”).   

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