odd animal profile: sichuan takin

I am obsessed. These animals look so cool and prehistoric. The Sichuan takin is a sub-species of takin, and for those of you(like, until recently, me) who don’t know what a takin is, a takin is a goat-antelope. These large lumbering creatures live in large herds and can even stand on their back legs to reach high leaves.

Photo by Mary Gorman
Photo by Mary Gorman

Don’t let the description of ‘goat-antelope’ fool you, these things are huge. I had the pleasure of meeting a very handsome takin at Le Menagerié in Paris just the other day and I would have guessed it to be a buffalo of sorts. Yet, despite their large size they can move with agility up and down the mountains to their valley food sources in the winter time. They have even been seen to stand on their back legs, balancing with their front hooves on trees to reach leaves higher up.

Photo by me
Photo by me

The takin does not have skin glands, yet their skin still excretes an oil to help protect it from the rain and fog. This oil also has a very strong smell and the takin will leave streaks of it on trees when it rubs. It is also quite cold up in the Himalayas so the takins thick, shaggy coat helps to protect it in the winter time.

Photo from Zoo Borns
Photo from Zoo Borns

The takins live in large herds that can reach up to 300 when they are grazing in meadows, but they tend to stay in herds of about 30 while in the dense forests. Their call sounds to me like a mixture between a goats ‘baa’ and a lions roar. I would say it sounds a bit like zebra duiker, but I’m sure that doesn’t help much of you…

Photo by me
Photo by me

Takins are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but are still being hunted for meat up in the Himalayas. Because of their habitat it is difficult to get a proper population estimate on them.

Photo by me at Le Menagerié
Photo by me at Le Menagerié
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