Did you know that there is a subfamily of creatures known as goat-antelopes? Scientific naming at its most creative! They are creatures that kind of look like goats, but also a little like antelopes.
Scientists are almost as good at naming things as Toddler Geoffrey, whose favorite stuffed animal remains to this day a blue teddy bear named Blue Teddy.
But happily, when the powers of goat and antelope combine, the result is freaking adorable. One of my long-time favorites at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is the takin enclosure, and if you’re asking “what the heck is a takin,” don’t worry — Wikipedia is here to help!
The takin (pron.: /ˈtɑːkɪn/; Budorcas taxicolor; Tibetan: ར་རྒྱ་, Wylie: ra rgya), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. The four subspecies are: B. taxicolor taxicolor, the Mishmi Takin; B. taxicolor bedfordi, the Shaanxi or golden takin; B. t. tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan takin; and B. t. whitei, theBhutan takin. Mitochondrial research shows the takin are related to sheep; its similarity to the muskox is an example of convergent evolution. The takin is the national animalof Bhutan.
So all that Latin should clear everything up for you. Or we could just look at adorable pictures and videos, since the ones at the Lincoln Park Zoo just had babies! You can click to enlarge any of these, and be sure to scroll all the way down for a video and a story about takin sexy times:
And for some extra cute, here is a video of the baby takin frolicking with their toys:
Funny story about these births (one baby each from two separate mother, just days apart) — I don’t think I actually saw the conception happen, but I sure saw Daddy Takin trying to work it.
Around the end of June last year I’d just been dumped, and I was down in Chicago trying to cheer myself up with, among other things, a visit to the zoo, and there the takin were, sort of shuffling in circles around their pen.
The bigger one would sniff the lady takin’s hindparts for a while, then do this awkward little hopping motion to try and get on top of her, and she’d kind of shuffle sideways and he’d fall back down on all fours, looking like an idiot.
This went on for as long as I was willing to watch it, which was kind of an alarmingly long time given that I was watching ungulates trying to bone, and periodically it would look like he was almost gonna get there, pinning her against a wall or tree or something — and then off she’d trot again, taking advantage of what is obviously the very real physical challenge of pivoting that many tons of furry buffalo thing from “horizontal” to “diagonal.”
Boy was working for it.
Alas, he never made the score while I was there, so the babies were probably not conceived during my visit. But takin mating is a good and hilarious time for anyone with the opportunity to watch it — you heard it here first.
And that’s your daily cute. Nothing political or controversial today — though I guess if we wanted to, we could question the zoo’s choice of Mandarin names for babies of a subspecies that mostly lives in Tibet. Up to you, but I’d recommend just enjoying the cute, myself.