The Czech Republic’s oldest zoo, in Liberec, is now host to its sixth new Golden Takin, an endangered goat-antelope from China. The new family of Takins is the first ever to be born outside of China and Japan, and as they multiply each year it seems they are faring well.
Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi is a large, rather odd-looking “goat-antelope” that lives among the bamboo and rhododendrons of the Eastern Himalayas, and in the North Bohemian town of Liberec. Since the Liberec zoo began its breeding programme for the endangered Takin, its stock has increased by six, with the last being born last Saturday. Zoo spokesman Ivan Langr says its chances for survival are good.
“The first kid is a male, he weighed about 9 kilos the day after his birth, and the mother, whose name is Cadence, started nursing him immediately. This is very important to avoid a repeat of what happened last year, when Cadence gave birth for the first time and didn’t suckle her kid and it died. In such cases we refuse to have the kids bred on a bottle by a person, because that has no place in natural breeding.”
The new Takin parents, Adam and Eva, were brought to the zoo in 2002. In their native environment the roughly 300 kilogramme beasts are preyed upon not only by bears and leopards, but more seriously by poachers, as they are prized for their meat. This has found them on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and outside of Japan and China, the only other place in the world they are bred is in Liberec.
“Our zoo is at the foot of the Jizerské Mountains, which means the climate is very mountainous with hard winters, so we have to choose animals that can withstand the winter, such as these Himalayan Takins. Another reason for choosing them is that the Chinese allowed us to. The Chinese government is very protective of this animal, much like they are of the Panda – they only allow them to be bred in certain places and under very strict conditions. So they had us build a special exhibit, sent specialists to make sure everything was up to par, and only then could the animals be moved.”
The Takins in Liberec indeed seem to be doing quite well; the zoo keepers expect two more Takin kids to be born soon. Meanwhile the newest addition to the family will be coming out into its outdoor pen in about two weeks.