Rocky Mountain Goat

ZOO LOCATION: Rocky Cliffs

Lifespan: Up to 18 years

Wild Diet: Grass, moss, ferns, shrubs, flowers, buds and conifers

Zoo Diet: Hoofstock pellets and timothy hay

Predators: Mountain lion, lynx, bear, coyote and wolves. Golden eagles may prey on the young.

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Steep cliffs and edges of glaciers in areas of high snowfall throughout Southern Alaska, Alberta, British Colombia and the Northwest United States.

Characteristics: Range from 2 1/2 - - 3 1/2 ft. at the shoulder; weigh up to 250 lbs. and 4.5-5 ft. long. Males are larger than females. Their fur, up to 4 in. thick, is yellowish-white with a fleecy undercoat and long guard hairs that elongate into stiff mane and rump patch. Their fur is shed mid-summer. Though not a true goat, they do have a "beard" like other goats. Males and females have sharp horns six to twelve inches long. A gland located at the base of the horns is used to mark territory. Hooves have a hard outer edge for digging in and a tough rubbery inner pad and dew claws for traction.

Behavior: They are "resource defenders," ruthlessly territorial when food is scarce. Male goats spray themselves with urine and are therefore very malodorous. Adult females with a kid dominate males. A male's defense is evasion; when this doesn't work, they have thick skin and fur on their rumps and neck for protection during fights.

Reproduction: Males are usually solitary, except during rut in the fall. Dominant males vie for females; fights are short, bloody and violent. One to two kids are born in the May or June after a gestation of about 180 days. Females mature in 2 - 2 1/2 years usually giving birth every other year. Usually about half of a local population are yearlings.

Conservation: The IUCN lists this species as Least Concern because of their wide distribution and large, stable population. Mountain Goats were introduced into Colorado around 1947 as a game species. In 1993, the Colorado Wildlife Commission designated them a native species, though most biologists doubt they were ever actually occurred naturally in Colorado.