Baby Yak Born at Bramble Park Zoo!

Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown South Dakota received an early Christmas gift. A baby yak was born! This is the first for the 108-year-old AZA accredited zoo. In the early morning hours of December 15, zookeepers spotted something on the ground in the domestic yak exhibit. Staff acted quickly and discovered a baby yak had recently been born. The newborn yak needed immediate attention because the mother (3-year-old Nika) was not caring for her new offspring. Zookeepers rounded up towels and blankets and began the process of drying and warming the calf. The calf was treated by the veterinarian for frostbite on the nose and lips, given IV fluids, and a shot of Nuflor to combat possible pneumonia. Zookeepers have been working around the clock to make sure Roberta Dolores is drinking, gaining weight, staying warm, and getting stronger each day. She is drinking 37 oz. of milk replacer each feeding and now weighs 64 pounds. Berta, as the keepers call her, often gets the zoomies when out exercising in the kangaroo yard.

Olivia feeding roberta the yak calf cropped
Olivia feeding roberta the yak calf cropped

Two New Yak Calves for Hellabrunn Zoo

1_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (4)

Hellabrunn Zoo is proud to introduce their two male Domestic Yak calves.

Keepers opted for names indicative of the youngsters’ unique coloring. “Skunk” was born on May 18, and “Snowy” on May 25.

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3_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (1)

4_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (3)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo /Dominik Greenwood (Images 1,3,4-5,8) / Michael Thomas (Images 2,6-7)

The Domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) is a longhaired domesticated bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. It is descended from the Wild Yak (Bos mutus).

Contrary to popular belief, Yak have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks. A Yak's wool is also naturally odor resistant.

Gestation lasts between 257 and 270 days and generally results in the birth of a single calf. The mother will find a secluded spot to give birth, and the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year. Calves are weaned at about one-year-old and become independent shortly thereafter.

5_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (2)

6_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Michael Thomas (2)

7_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Michael Thomas (3)

8_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (6)

Yak Calf Debuts at Hellabrunn Zoo

1_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (4)

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. 

2_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (1)

3_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (2)

4_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (3)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Bihler Photography

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.