Musk Ox

(Ovibos moschatus)




Facts about this animal

The Musk Ox is a sturdy built animal with long, brown coat, the hairs almost reaching to the ground. They have woolly undercoat (qiviut) which protects the animals from the harsh conditions in the Arctic. An adult Musk Ox bull stands about 1 m tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 400 kg. Cows are smaller than the bulls. Both sexes have curved horns but the female's are smaller.

Musk Oxen are more closely related to goats and sheeps, although they may resemble bison. The soft underwool or qiviut is sold and highly prized for its insulative value.

Did you know?
that in Palmer, Alaska, there is a Musk Ox Farm, a private non-profit organization dedicated to the development and domestication of the musk ox? The animals kept at the farm form the basis of a cottage industry for Alaskans living in remote coastal villages. The soft under-wool of the musk ox, qiviut, is harvested once a year and delivered to Oomingmak, an Alaskan native knitter's co-operative.


Name (Scientific) Ovibos moschatus
Name (English) Musk Ox
Name (French) Boeuf musqué
Name (German) Moschusochse
Name (Spanish) Buey almizclado
Local names Danish: Moskusokse
Inuit: Oomingmak
Norwegian: Moskusfe
Swedish: Myskoxe
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Lisa Chikos



Range Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russland, Sweden
Habitat Tundra regions
Wild population IUCN (1997) gives the total numnber as less than 118,000.
Zoo population 91 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

Musk Ox


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Hannes Grobe

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Musk Ox is of educational interest because, although looking like an ox, it does not belong to the cattle tribe but to the sheep, and because of its adaptation to the arctic climate. It is also an excellent flagship species for highlighting conservation problems due to climate change.