Native to the Himalayan mountains of Asia, goat-like takin have sturdy hooves and strong legs that help them keep their footing on rugged ground. Their thick wool keeps them warm in winter months.
What They Eat
Takin are ruminants—plant-eating animals that chew their cud. They eat more than 100 kinds of plants, including bamboo, rhododendron, and horsetail.
Where They Live
These rugged animals are at home in the cloud-shrouded tropical forests that grow on the steep, rocky slopes of Asian mountains. They live in herds and migrate with the seasons, following new plant growth up the mountains in summer, then gathering at lower altitudes, protected from the cold by their thick wool coats, in winter. They can survive up to timberline at 4,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
What They Do
Takin live in small herds made up of females, younger males, and offspring. Older males are often solitary. In summer the herds combine to form gatherings of roughly 100 animals or more. In fall they separate again.
How They’re Doing
Considered a national treasure, takin are protected in China. Although they thrive on wildlife reserves, including land set aside to protect the giant panda, populations have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss and hunting.
- There are four subspecies of takin. The Minnesota Zoo exhibits the Sichuan subspecies.
- When takin are alarmed they cough to alert others.
- The Shaanxi subspecies of takin is thought to be origin of the Golden Fleece found in Greek mythology.
- Takin hooves help takin move nimbly over rocks.
- Takin are crepuscular, meaning they are most active in early morning and late afternoon.
The takin is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and is protected from trade under Appendix II of CITES. The Chinese government has given the takin full protection and considers it a national treasure, along with the giant panda and golden monkey, which share overlapping ranges with the Sichuan takin. Several reserves that have been set up in China for the giant panda also encompass and protect takin, and several additional reserves have been set up primarily for the takin.
Little is known about takin populations because the species lives in a rather inaccessible habitat, so field research on this species is lacking. However, scientists suspect approximately 1,000–1,300 golden takin, several thousand Sichuan takin, and perhaps 21,000 other takin thrive in the wild.