Animal Directory

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Yaks

All wild cattle have a keen sense of smell, and the yak is no
exception. Yaks are constantly sniffing to collect information
about each other, their enemies, and food sources. Males spend a
great deal of time watching other males to assess their ability to
fight. They use posture and movement to challenge each other,
because they don't have enough facial musculature to change their
expressions. Often the challenges are between yaks of unequal
strength: that way the weaker one can back down, and neither yak
gets hurt.

How they hunt.

Yaks are grazing animals, and do not hunt. They are
surprisingly agile, however, and have been known to slide down
snowy hillsides, swim rivers, and make small jumps--maneuvers that
might not be expected from animals that weigh over a thousand
pounds and stand six feet high at the shoulder.

What they eat.

Like domestic cows and bison, yaks feed on grass.
Many of them are kept domestically by people like the Sherpas of
Mt. Everest, and the Sherpas see to it that their yaks find plenty
to eat, even in cold weather. Yaks are very strong, and can carry
heavy loads for people. Their horns and 3-foot-long hair can be
made into a variety of useful items.

How they multiply.

Usually one calf is born to a female yak, or
'dri,' at a time, although twins do occur. The dri's milk is very
rich, and calves grow quickly. People make use of the yak's milk as
well--a yak can be milked three times a day.

Where they live.

Yaks are found in the cold, dry regions of the
Tibetan Plateaus in Central Asia. Often they are found at altitudes
higher than 16,000 feet. Their blood is much thinner than that of
most mammals. This allows them to easily maintain more of the
scarce oxygen in their systems without having to breathe harder, as
most mammals would have to do.

Life-O-Meter.

Green light. As domestic animals, the yak's future
is assured. At one time they were hunted nearly to extinction, but
the native people of the highlands discovered that farming the yak
was a much more productive way of using it as a resource. Wild yaks
do occur in smaller numbers, and if nothing changes, they always
will.

Coming soon!

A Yak is sliding its way downhill to you at this very
moment. When it arrives, we'll let you "pet" it. In the meantime,
click on the Animal Directory.

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