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Animals & Attractions

Musk Ox

In our collection

We currently have a small herd of musk ox. Our female arrived at the Park on 14 January 2012. Karin was born in 2002 in the Czech Republic. On 31 May 2012 we received Myse, a two year old male from Sweden. In June 2014 Karin gave birth to a male calf, who has been called Boeuf by his keepers.

Where to see them

Our musk ox can be seen from the viewing platform near the tiger enclosure, on the path out to the female polar bear enclosure.

Find out more

Status

Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX

Least Concern

For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredist.org

Size

Population

TBC

Habitat

  • Grasslands

    Grasslands

  • Polar regions

    Polar regions

Diet

In The Wild

The musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) is an Arctic mammal that lived during the last ice age beside the woolly mammoth. They have an extremely thick coat which is a mixture of black, grey and brown hairs. Their coat consists of two parts, long course outer hairs, called guard hairs, which almost reach the ground and a soft dense undercoat called qiviut. Qiviut wool is highly prized for its softness, length and insulation. It is said to be eight times warmer than sheep’s wool.

They primarily live in Arctic Canada and Greenland, but there are also re-introduced populations in Alaska and Siberia where they had become extinct by the end of the 19th century. A small population has also been established in Norway. Males emit a strong odour that helps to attract females during the mating season which occurs during late August to October. Females have a calf every year after an 8 month gestation period and calving takes place between April and June.

Musk ox are herd animals that are more closely related to sheep and goats rather than oxen. Both sexes have long curved horns which don't stop growing. They can live up to 20 years and survive on a diet of grasses, Arctic willows, woody plants, lichens and mosses. An adult male can weigh up to 300kg and a female 200kg, their main predators are Artic wolves and occasionally polar and grizzly bears.

The world population is estimated at between 80,000 and 125,000 and they represent a significant conservation success story, although climate change may reverse this.

Meet our Musk Ox