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Asian Highlands will be home to a species new to Cleveland: the mythical looking Sichuan takin.
With construction underway on Asian Highlands, Zoo animal care and veterinary teams are busy preparing for care of the species in the new habitat. Along with guest favorites red panda and snow leopard, Asian Highlands will be home to Amur leopard and a species new to Cleveland: Sichuan takin.
Takin are a species of goat-antelope native to the eastern Himalayas. With a stocky body, thick fur and stout horns, Sichuan takin are almost mythical in appearance; they can look like a mix between an ox, antelope and mountain goat. Their short, strong legs have large, two-toed hooves that allow them climbing strength and balance on rocky slopes.
Takin eat all kinds of vegetation - from bamboo leaves to the tough bark of alpine evergreens. They are able to stand on hind legs and prop against trees to reach leaves and branches at higher levels.
This will be the first time takin are in Cleveland, and they will be coming from The Wilds near Cumberland, Ohio. Before any animal departure or arrival, the Zoo’s animal care teams work with curators and keepers at other zoos to ensure a steady transfer of information that will help the animal adjust to a new location, diet and training.
“We began planning with the help of the Wilds’ staff in early 2016. One of the first steps was to invite takin experts from the Wilds to Cleveland and discuss the number and gender of animals that would best fit our facilities,” said Animal Curator Travis Vineyard, who is in charge of the Wilderness Trek area of the Zoo.
“Our biggest emphasis was on having stout enough facilities to match the robust nature of takin. Members of the takin Species Survival Plan are now working to identify specific animals that are ideal for Cleveland, and by extension the whole population.”
In the wild, takin tend to inhabit the same dense bamboo forests as giant panda and therefore have benefited from the creation of nature reserves in China to protect the panda. The IUCN Red List currently indicates the species is “vulnerable” due to poaching − there are reports of hunters luring takin out of forests with salt licks − habitat loss and disturbance from tourism.
Connecting with wildlife in Cleveland − like Sichuan takin − will help underscore the importance of working to secure their future in the wild. The takin will arrive next year after the opening of Asian Highlands.