Two delightful baby yaks named Tonks and Cedric have brought joy to visitors at Whipsnade Zoo as they frolic and leap around the Dunstable Downs. The zookeepers have a tradition of naming their yak family after beloved characters from the Harry Potter books, and these adorable new arrivals are no exception.
Zookeeper George Spooner shared that the first addition to the family was the female Tonks, born on September 20th to first-time mum Pandora and dad Draco. Following her, a male yak named Cedric was born on October 7th to the female Petunia.
Tonks and Cedric are fast becoming inseparable friends, playing together in the long grasses of their paddock. At the same time, their watchful mothers try to catch some rest. Just like their namesakes, the yaks display distinct personalities, with Tonks being described as bold and friendly. At the same time, Cedric is utterly loveable and handsome.
Whipsnade Zoo is home to a herd of “fantastic beasts,” including Petunia, Hermione, Luna, Ginny, Pandora, Draco, and now, the babies Tonks and Cedric. Visitors during this October half-term have the opportunity to meet these enchanting creatures up close.
While yaks may appear somewhat mystical in the misty winter months at the conservation zoo, resembling dementors from the Harry Potter series, they are gentle and pose no threat to visitors. Dementors, in the wizarding world, are guards in the prison of Azkaban.
Yaks are highly social animals that live in herds ranging from 10 to 20 individuals. They communicate through vocalizations, primarily grunting, as they cannot moo like other cattle. Their Latin name, “bos grunniens,” translates to “grunting ox.”
Baby yaks weigh around 20kg at birth and are known for their rapid mobility. They often stand within 20 minutes of being born with a gentle nudge from their mothers.
While Whipsnade Zoo is home to a healthy herd of domestic yaks, their wild counterparts (Bos mutus) face numerous challenges in the wild. The wild yak is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, primarily due to poaching, habitat loss, competition with traditional livestock, and disease transmission in regions like China and India.
ZSL, the conservation charity behind Whipsnade Zoo, actively works to understand and address these remarkable creatures’ threats in Asia.
The delightful presence of Tonks and Cedric provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of wild yaks, whose numbers are declining, and the importance of conservation efforts to protect them.
Yaks were once widespread throughout South Asia but have gone extinct in some countries, including Bhutan. By sharing the story of these adorable baby yaks, the zoo aims to inspire compassion and action to conserve this vulnerable species.
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