Best Zoo Animal St. Louis 2003 - Takin
Readers' Choice: Penguins
Tucked away on the eastern edge of the zoo, ensconced between the giraffe enclosure and the wallaby pit, rests the unacknowledged (until now) mistress of the animals, the takin. If the lion is King of the Jungle, then the takin is Queen Mother of Beasts. Her informational placard notes that this "goat-antelope," whose name rhymes with "rockin'," is found in the remote altitudes of China and Tibet. With her roughly bovine shape, cloven hooves, thick brownish-yellow coat and blunt muzzle, the takin looks not just out of her native habitat, but out of her time; she is an anachronism, a creature from an earlier era. The takin remembers the Ice Age; untold millennia of wisdom pool in her placid eyes. Possessing neither the rapacious drive of the goat nor the skittish energy of the antelope, the takin instead reposes in serene majesty, watching another Age unfold. She has done her duty, surviving long enough to reproduce (her calf was born early in the spring and is occupied butting up clumps of earth with squat horns), and now waits peacefully, quietly certain that life continues unabated. This confidence in the way of the world emanates from her, a corona of reassuring warmth that will fill you with a sense of well-being and comfort.