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Zoo Diary: Yakety Yak

on 24th May, 2021
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We have some exciting news this week at the Lake District Wildlife Park…a couple of new arrivals! At this time of year, new animals usually mean lambs, kids, piglets and chicks. However, our two new youngsters are nearly a year old and came from Knowsley Safari Park. Last week we welcomed onto the Park Ada and Abel two little Yaks to join our big old male Mr Yak.

Mr Yak is now 20 years old and has been at the park since he arrived himself when he was one year old. Mr Yak has a large, grassed enclosure and has had a few different companions including domestic stock such as cows and sheep. More recently he has been herding up the geese and ducks that were residing nearby. And just last week Ada and Abel were introduced to join him. At first there was quite a bit of sniffing, puffing, grunting and trotting around until all three Yaks worked out who was in charge. That was quite easy to establish with Mr Yak towering over the two new youngsters! Ada is a female and Abel is her male brother. They have settled in extremely well and it is great to see them grazing together in their large enclosure.

Set against the backdrop of the Skiddaw mountain range and with the prayer flags fluttering in the wind it is easy to imagine these beautiful beasts as they would be in the wild. Yak are found in the wild in places such as on the Tibetan plateaus, but in quite low numbers. They are more commonly found as domestic animals where they are used to pull ploughs or carts for farming duties. They are perhaps more famously known as being used as carriage animals, assisting porters and accompanying trekkers to carry their loads up into the Himalayan mountains. They are strong animals, carrying heavy loads and are well adapted to high altitudes. With their thick long coat, they are also able to withstand cold temperatures.

Yaks are also very useful on the high plateaus where there are no trees growing. If there are no trees, it means there is no firewood for fires. Yak dung when it has dried out, makes very good fuel. Poop scoops have been designed so that the poop can be picked up easily and flipped into a basket, just as if you were collecting firewood. Luckily at the Lake District Wildlife Park we have no need for Yak dung fuel, so the Keepers may not be asked to add this to their poop scooping duties!

So, if you have never met a Yak before, or wondered what they look like, walk down to our Red Panda enclosure. As you look back towards Skiddaw mountain you will see magnificent Mr Yak and the two smaller beasts of Ada and Abel.

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