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Two Newborn Takins Roaming with Herd at Lincoln Park Zoo

By Paul Biasco | February 13, 2013 6:59pm

LINCOLN PARK — The Lincoln Park Zoo saw two of its gorilla babies born just weeks apart this fall, so it's only fitting that the zoo's newest pair of baby takins were born just nine days apart.

The Sichuan takin boys were born to mother Mei Li on Jan. 31 and Feb. 9, and got a chance to explore their exhibit at the Antelope and Zebra Area Wednesday morning, according to a zoo announcement.

The zoo has yet to name the takins, and it is giving the public a chance to vote on their names online. The choices are all in Mandarin, to reflect the animals' Chinese roots.

The possible names for the boys on the online poll include Yen Li, meaning "calming and strength"; Chen Li meaning "morning strength"; Mengyau meaning "superior handsomeness"; Ming Hoa meaning "shining elite"; Temur Khan meaning "blessed iron ruler"; and Xing Fu meaning "happy good fortune."

“A pair of healthy takin baby boys is way better than candy and roses,” said General Curator Dave Bernier in a news release. “It is great to have two youngsters at the same time for the animals’ social development, and we can look forward to some exciting play behavior in the near future.”

The newborns will be on exhibit to the public with the rest of the herd, now totaling six animals, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m.

Each takin eventually will reach an average of 600 pounds.

Zoo officials said the animals were breed through a recommendation from the Sichuan Takin Species Survival Plan, a conservation effort between other zoos to help the vulnerable species survive.

“At only a few days old, Mei Li’s calf is full of energy and already playfully head-butting his dad,” said Bernier, who serves at the Species Survival Plan Coordinator for the Sichuan takin across North American zoos. “The younger calf is still a little more timid, sticking close to mom and finding his feet as he explores the yard.”

The species, which grazes on shrubs and grasses, is vulnerable because of hunting and habitat loss in its native China and surrounding mountain ranges, according to the zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo President and CEO Kevin Bell called the large goat antelope species with thick curved horns his favorite animal in a letter announcing the birthday of the newborns.