(Capra ibex ibex)
Facts about this animal
Ibex are the most frequent wild bovids of the Alps and related to goats. Most eye-catching are their curved horns. Those of the males can grow up to 1m and weigh as much as 15 kg. Horns grow a lifetime but less with increasing age. An individual's age can be told from the annual rings visible on the back of the horns. Ibex have a compact body on sturdy legs.
While males, called bucks, can reach a bodyweight from 80 kg up to 150 kg, goats hardly ever exceed 50 kg. Ibex are strong jumpers and sure-footed climbers. This enables them to move easily in their steep, inaccessible terrain. Living above tree limit, they have a very thick coat and are able to survive even with only sparse nutrition. Males join the female herds in late autumn for the rut season in December/January and depart in early spring. Male bachelor herds form during summer and have a distinct hierarchy, based on age, size and strength. Playful fights occur to clarify this ranking: Bucks rear up on their hind legs before crashing their horns together. During the rut most high-ranking bucks avoid each other, minimizing the number of serious conflicts.
After a gestation period of 165-170 days 1 rarely 2 kids are born. Shortly after the fawns are able to follow their mother even in difficult terrain. While sons leave their mother's herd after two years to join bachelor groups, daughters remain. This explains why mostly all female animals in a herd are related to each other.
Did you know?
... that during summertime ibex - just like humans - take a "siesta" at lunchtime. They forage mainly in the morning and the afternoon. During winter season - as the days are short - the ibex do hardly rest during the day but are forced to spend all day foraging for cushion plants and dry grass they dig out of the snow. Additionally ruminating helps them to extract more nutrients and digest the meagre food.
|Name (Scientific)||Capra ibex ibex|
|Name (English)||Alpine Ibex|
|Name (French)||Bouquetin des Alpes|
|Name (Spanish)||Íbice de los Alpes|
|Local names||Italian: Stambecco delle Alpi
Rumansh: Stambutg, Capricorn
|CITES Status||Not listed|
|CMS Status||Not listed|
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|Range||European Alps, Frequency declining to the East|
|Habitat||Montane pastures at an altitude of 1,600-3,200 m|
|Wild population||Approx. 40'000 for details see the article The Fall and Rise of the King of the Alps|
|Zoo population||298 reported to ISIS (2005)|
In the Zoo
How this animal should be transported
For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.
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Why do zoos keep this animal
Even though Capra i. ibex is not threatened nowadays, the species is still kept in many zoos. When firearms came up, the ibex was hunted almost to its extinction. Horns were treasured trophies, ground horns and the blood of the animals were believed good remedy for many different diseases ("Ibex Pharmacy"). Only about 100 animals survived in Gran Paradiso (Italy) because King Victor Emanuell II kept them for his own pleasure (hunting!) and protected them by a game keeper from poaching. As the King wasn't willing to sell ibex to breed, some animals were smuggled to Switzerland. This was the beginning of a successful breeding. All today living ibex originate from these few founder animals. Some of them were brought into different zoos to breed and their offspring were resettled in the Alps later on - a process that continues until today.