Hellabrunn’s yak herd welcomes two new females

The yak group at Hellabrunn Zoo has expanded! The new arrivals Pema and Patuca - two white-grey spotted female yaks - were transferred from Zurich Zoo to Munich in mid-September.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

The two females, both born in 2015, now feel very much a part of the Hellabrunn Yak family. In addition to the breeding bull Norbu and the two-year-old bull Pedro, there are now a total of five cows as well as two calves living at the zoo. Of the new arrivals, Pema is the easier to spot with her chic hairstyle and the missing horns. "It’s not so unusual to find yaks without horns,” explains Carsten Zehrer, biologist and curator for the yaks. “Like goats and other domesticated species there are hereditary lines with and without horns".

The yaks at Hellabrunn Zoo are domestic yaks (Bos grunniens). The domesticated species are mainly found in the Himalayas, Mongolia and southern Siberia. They evolved from the wild yak (Bos mutus) that lives in the Tibetan highlands. Yaks are able to thrive in the extreme climatic conditions that exist in these high altitude regions and are frugal eaters. In their often inhospitable habitats, they can survive without food or water for several days at a time. Domestic yaks play an important role in these regions, especially in agriculture. The animals supply milk and meat as well as wool and leather – and their dried manure is used as an important source of fuel. Yaks are also kept as pack animals.

Unlike the domestic yak, the wild yak, like many other wild cattle-related species that still exist, is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In the last 30 years alone, the remaining population of wild yak, which is limited to Western China and Tibet, has declined by over 30 per cent.

About the domestic yak at Hellabrunn Zoo

There are currently nine domestic yaks living at Hellabrunn Zoo: the breeding bull Norbu (*13.05.2013, at Hellabrunn since 14.12.2014), the juvenile bull Pedro (*10.09.2015), yak cows Korea (*02.07.2010), Tingri (*1997), Tirpani (*1997) and Kat (*30.12.2010), as well as the two new arrivals Pema (*03.10.2015) and Patuca (*14.04.2015), and the calf Riggs (*04.05.2017).