A four-month-old Takin, named Dale, recently had a big day at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. He went on exhibit for the first time with his mom, Sally.
Soon after his birth, Dale was pulled to be hand raised in the Zoo’s nursery. Sally, a first time Mom, wasn't caring for him. Keepers intervened and turned to another method to assist in Dale’s care. Blakely, the Cincinnati Zoo’s resident nursery dog and part-time nanny, was called into action to do what he does best, snuggle and play. His new companion was, then 3-week-old, Dale.
Nursery keepers gave Dale a bottle every three hours from 6am to midnight, and Blakely provided socialization and taught certain behaviors through play.
Blakely has, in the past, provided this same service for a Cheetah, an Ocelot, Bat-eared Foxes, an Aardvark, a Warthog and brother Wallabies. Dale remained in the nursery with Blakely, until recently when he was reintroduced to his mother.
Not only is Sally (born at the Zoo in 2009) a first-time mom, but this is also a first for Dale’s dad, Harry. Dale’s arrival marked the Cincinnati Zoo’s seventh live Takin birth. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only 17 institutions in the U.S. that houses Takins.
Sally and Dale are getting along remarkably well and making up for lost time. Dale and his mom can now be seen together in the Zoo’s Wildlife Canyon exhibit.
The Takin (Budorcas taxicolor), also called Cattle Chamois or Gnu Goat, are large muscular hoofed mammals that reside in mountainous bamboo forests. Native to the Himalayas and Western China, they weigh anywhere between 550 and 770 pounds, and have a height range between 3 and 4 feet. Both males and females have unique horns that curve backwards and outwards, and range between 10 and 12 inches in length.
Takins generally live for 12 to 15 years and have a diet of grasses, leaves, buds, and shoots. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, using their split hooves to move easily over the rocky terrain.
Gestation lasts about seven months and young weigh about 15 lbs. (7 kg), at birth. Takin kids are much darker in color than adults, as camouflage from predators. They are born with a dark stripe along the back that disappears as they age. Their coat gets lighter in color, longer, and shaggier as they mature. Takin kids eat solid food and stop nursing at around two months of age, but they continue to stay near mom until her next calf is born. Horns begin to grow when the kid is about six-months-old.
Takin are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their main predators are bears and wolves, which they ward off with low roars and bellows.