Wild Times Archive

Sichuan Takin

Takins, considered to be a Chinese national treasure, are large, muscular mammals covered with thick hair and bearing crescent-shaped horns. Sometimes called goat antelopes, these animals look like a cross between a wildebeest, a moose, a bear, and a bison. Takins have split hooves that allow them to nimbly navigate rocky landscapes.

Well adapted for freezing temperatures in the northern Himalayas, takins grow a secondary coat for insulation in the winter and then shed it for summer. Their skin creates an oily substance that protects them during rain storms and fog. Large snouts house big sinus cavities to warm inhaled air before reaching the lungs, allowing them to conserve body heat while breathing cold air.

Though takins appear to be quiet creatures, they can produce a variety of sounds to communicate with each other. A “cough” alerts the herd to danger; a mother uses a high-pitched “rrr” to call her kid; and a guttural “bellow” is used to intimidate a male rival during a fight.

The very first takin at the Edmonton Valley Zoo arrived in 2003. There are currently six resident takins in our herd!

Takins can reach 1.2 m (4 ft) in height and weigh an average of 275 kg (600 lbs)

Takins will eat almost any kind of vegetation within reach, including leaves, bark, and herbs.

Takins live in large herds of up to 300 individuals in the summer, but live in smaller herds in the winter when food is scarce. Adult male takins are solitary animals but will join up with a herd during mating season.

Gestation lasts six to seven months, usually producing one baby.

16-18 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity


Takins have few natural enemies other than bears, leopards, or wolves. They are considered to be a threatened species with declining numbers due to poaching and habitat destruction. Studies have shown they are vulnerable to climate change. 

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