Cyprian Wild Sheep

(Ovis orientalis ophion)


Cyprian Wild Sheep IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

The Cyprian wild sheep - the national animal of Cyprus - was probably introduced by man from Asia minor to Cyprus about 8’000 to 10’000 years ago. With an average shoulder height of 66 cm, the Cyprus mouflon is the smallest of all wild sheep. There is a clear sexual dimorphism: males (body-weight 30-40 kg) are larger than the females (body-weight 20-30 kg) and have much larger horns, which may reach a length of 71 cm.


It is a very coulourful subspecies. The upper parts are reddish brown and, like in gazelles, the white under parts are separated by a black flank stripe, and there are black markings also on the legs. The very short tail is black on the upper side and white on the lower side. Males have also some black on the neck and, during the mating season, a white saddle.

Newborn lambs weigh about 2 kg.

Did you know?
that the Cyprian wild sheep is the largest terrestrial mammal of Cyprus? In prehistoric times also hippopotami and dwarf elephants lived on the island, but they disapperared about 9.000 years ago. Other indigenous mammals found today include brown hare, red fox, hedgehog, and various kinds of smaller insectivores, bats, and rodents.


Name (Scientific) Ovis orientalis ophion
Name (English) Cyprian Wild Sheep
Name (French) Mouflon de Chypre
Name (German) Zyprisches Mufflon
Name (Spanish) Muflón de Chipre
Local names Greek: Kypriakó agrinó
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Vladislav Jiroušek



Range Cyprus
Habitat Open, mountainous, semi-arid, rocky region, open deciduous forest and grassland in hilly areas.
Wild population The Cyprian wild sheep used to be fairly common until, in the 19th century, Cyprus was occupied by the British and far-reaching firearms were imported in large numbers. Within a few decades the population collapsed, and around 1900 only about 20-30 animals survived in the Paphos State Forest in the south-west of the island. Thanks to effective conservation measures, the population has recovered, but nonetheless is decreasing in number.
Zoo population 3 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Cyprian Wild Sheep


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
Vladislav Jiroušek

Why do zoos keep this animal

There are currently no Cyprian wild sheep kept outside of Cyprus.