Alpine chamois

(Rupicapra rupicapra)


Alpine chamois IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Alpine chamois is similar in appearance to a goat and slightly larger than a Roe deer. It has a relatively long neck, long hairs on the back of the neck and on the back (especially in winter). This tuft of hair is often used to decorate hats ("Gamsbart"). The coat is reddish-brown in summer with a dark stripe along the back. In winter the coat is blackish-brown. The chamois has a conspicuous facial colouration: the face is white with dark stripes running from the muzzle to the eyes. The legs of the chamois are usually darker than the body colour and it has whitish underparts and backside. The sexes are similar in appearance and both have hook-like horns, but in males they are slightly thicker and usually sharper curved (with the tip pointing almost to the head while in females the tips point rather to the backside). Males (40-50 kg) are broader in chest and neck and are slightly larger than females (30-35 kg). Head-body lenght is from 1 to 1.3 m.

Rut beginns in the middle of October and ends in December. Males hardly eat during this time and live on accumulated fat reserves. During this season males join female herds and try to drive away other males. The risk to get injured during fights is quite high (they try to wound each other on the belly and flanks with their hook-like horns) which can lead to the death of one of the opponent.


After a gestation period of about 6 months, usually a single kid is born in May/June. They are able to follow their mothers shortly after birth. Kids are weaned about half a year leater, but stay close to their mothers during their first winter.

Did you know?
that Chamois, unlike most other ungulates, really try to harm each other during a fight? When it comes to a fight between males of an ungulate species they usually compete in head-to-head combat in a direct comparison of strength. But Chamois attack the belly and flanks of their rivals in order to rip it open with the sharp hooked horns.


Name (Scientific) Rupicapra rupicapra
Name (English) Alpine chamois
Name (French) Chamois
Name (German) Alpengemse
Name (Spanish) Rebeco
Local names Italian: Camoscio
Romansh: Chamutg
Slovenian: Gams
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Central, southern and eastern Europe and Anatolia (Asia Minor). Introduced to New Zealand. rupicapra group: Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey pyrenaica group: Andorra, France, Italy, Spain
Habitat Mountainous habitat between 800 and 2500 m. Most often found on alpine meadows or in mountain forests near cliffy, rocky terrain. In winter they often feed on south facing meadows where snow has already melted, or where snow has gone because of avalanches or wind.
Wild population Approx. 440.000 in Europe (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 56 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Alpine chamois


How this animal should be transported

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


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Marcin BiaƂek

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Alpine chamois is not a threatened species, and there is no coordinated breeding programme for them. Chamois are therefore primarily kept by European zoos and wildlife parks for educational reasons to familiarise people with a native species.

Occasionally chamois are also kept for animal welfare reasons as zoos may accept orphaned chamois for handrearing.