AskDefine | Define takin

Dictionary Definition

takin n : large heavily built goat antelope of eastern Himalayan area [syn: gnu goat, Budorcas taxicolor]

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Extensive Definition

The Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) is a goat-antelope found in of the Eastern Himalayas. There are four subspecies: B. taxicolor taxicolor, the Mishmi Takin; B. taxicolor bedfordi, the Shensi or Golden Takin; B. taxicolor tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan Takin; and B. taxicolor whitei, the Bhutan Takin. Mitochondrial research shows that takin are related to bighorn sheep, although acting as an example of convergent evolution in its similarity to the muskox. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan.
Takin stand 110 to 120 centimetres (3 to 4 feet) at the shoulder and weigh up to 350 kg. small ears. They are sometimes referred to as "beestung moose". They are covered in a thick golden wool which turns black on the under-belly. Both sexes have small horns which run parallel to the skull and then turn upwards in a short point, these are around 30 centimetres long.
Takin are found in bamboo forests at altitudes of 2,000 to 4,500 metres - where they eat grass, buds and leaves. Takin are diurnal, active in the day, resting in the heat on particularly sunny days. Takin gather in small herds in winter and herds of up to a hundred individuals in the summer, old males are solitary.
Some theorise that the Takin may be the source of the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology.
The reason for Bhutan selecting the Takin as the national animal is based on both its uniqueness and its strong association with the country's religious history and mythology. According to legend, when the great saint Lama Drukpa Kunley (called "the divine madman") visited Bhutan in the 15th century, a large congregation of devotees gathered around the country to witness his magical powers. The people urged the lama to perform a miracle. However, the saint, in his usual unorthodox and outrageous way, demanded that he first be served a whole cow and a goat for lunch. He devoured these with relish and left only bones. After letting out a large and satisfied burp, he took the goat's head and stuck it onto the bones of the cow. And then with a snap of his fingers, he commanded the strange beast to rise up and graze on the mountainside. To the astonishment of the people the animal arose and ran up to the meadows to graze. This animal came to be known as the dong gyem tsey (takin) and to this day, these rather clumsy animals can be seen grazing on the mountainsides of Bhutan.


  • Listed as Vulnerable (VU A2cd v2.3)
  • Lonely Planet Bhutan, Tashi Wangchuk.
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