Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is pleased to announce the recent birth of a Sichuan takin (Budorcas taxicolor tibetana). The female calf, named Ascharya (surprise, spear, cute, little), was born January 26, 2017. The father, Taile, came to Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden from the St. Louis Zoo and the mother, Dawa, came from the Los Angeles Zoo.
This is the third offspring from this pairing and despite the immense size difference, they are very gentle and attentive parents. Ascharya is curious, yet timid, and often seeks the comfort of her mother. The best time for guests to see the new calf is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The family is exhibited in the Zoo’s Asian valley.
Sichuan takin are in the goat and sheep subfamily of Caprinae and can be found in the forested valleys or rugged mountainous terrain of China. Takins communicate with scent, sound and sparring. They live in family groups of up to 30 individuals consisting mainly of females with multiple generations of offspring. Takin are rumored to be the inspiration for the character of “Beast” in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
The population of Sichuan takin in the wild is declining, which has prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to classify the species as “vulnerable.” Overhunting and habitat loss are significant threats to its survival. Currently, the takin population in North America is comprised of 125 individuals at 17 participating Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions and 5 non-AZA institutions. There are about 16 takin births per year.