Hellabrunn Zoo, in Munich, Germany, welcomed a new male domestic Yak. Pedro was born September 10, and he is the first offspring of four-year-old mother, Kat, and two-year-old father, Norbu.
The Yak (Bos grunniens or Bos mutus) is a long-haired bovid found throughout the Himalaya region of southern Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. Most Yaks are domesticated (Bos grunniens). The small, vulnerable population of wild Yaks are ‘Bos mutus’.
The Yak may have diverged from cattle at some time in the past, and there is a suggestion that it may be more closely related to the bison that to the other members of its designated genus ‘Bos’.
The Yak is the largest native animal in their range. Wild Yak adults stand about 5.2 to 7.2 feet (1.6 to 2.2 m) tall at the shoulder and weigh 672 to 2,205 lbs (305 to 1,000 kg). Domesticated Yaks are much smaller, males weighing 770 to 1,280 lbs (350 to 580 kg) and females 496 to 562 lbs (225 to 255 kg).
Wild Yaks typically have black or dark brown hair, with a greyish muzzle. Wild Yaks with golden coloring are known as ‘Wild Golden Yak’ and are considered endangered in China. Domesticated Yaks have a wider range of coat coloring, with some individuals being white, grey, brown, roan or piebald. Hellabrunn’s new calf, Pedro, inherited the white coloring of his father, instead of the black his mother exhibits.
Gestation for Yaks lasts between 257 and 270 days. The female finds a secluded spot to give birth, but the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth, and the pair soon rejoins the herd. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year. Calves are weaned at one year and become independent shortly thereafter.
Wild Yaks usually form herds of ten to thirty individuals. Their diet consists largely of grasses and sedges. They also eat a smaller amount of herbs, shrubs, mosses, and occasionally lichen.
The wild Yak (Bos mutus) is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is inferred that the species has declined over 30% the last 30 years, based on direct observations, decline in range, and continued threats to their habitat.