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Meet Mesker Park Zoo's First Takin Calf

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Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Indiana has welcomed its first-ever Takin calf, a female named Ching Lan, which means 'beautiful orchid' in Chinese. In the wild, this little calf would be following her mother on steep mountain paths at three days-old. It looks like she's practicing those motor skills by sneaking up on mom!

Born to first-time parents, the calf is thriving and zoo staff are very pleased with the attention her parents are giving her.

Zoo Director Amos Morris said, “The Takin are doing exactly what they need to be doing for their offspring and we are all enjoying watching wildlife at its best.”  

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3 takinPhoto credit: Mesker Park Zoo & Botanical Garden

There are four subspecies of Takin that live throughout the eastern Himalayas, in Tibet, some Chinese provinces, Bhutan, and northeast India. Once thought to be related to muskox, the Takin is now known to be more closely related to sheep.

In the wild, baby Takin begin to follow their mothers along steep paths when they are just three days old – a crucial survival skill for these leaf-eating animals that travel seasonally to find food. Though heavily-built, Takin are surprisingly agile on the rocky cliffs of their homeland.  Their large hooves have a spur that makes them sure-footed even on steep terrain.  Males can weigh up to 800 pounds. Both males and females have thick upward-turning horns.

Equipped for life at higher altitudes, they can withstand very cold temperatures. In winter, they grow a secondary coat as protection from freezing temperatures. Long nasal passages warm frigid air before it reaches the lungs. 

Because Takin live in remote areas, not much is known about their wild populations.  But habitat loss, hunting, and human disturbance have caused Takin to be listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.