The Los Angeles Zoo has announced the recent birth of two pairs of Tajik markhors--two boys and two girls. These are the first markhors to be born at the LA Zoo. The parents and kids will soon be on display for the public.
Markhors are a type of large wild goat. Their name is Persian for "snake eater," despite the fact that they are herbivores. They dwell in Middle Eastern mountains, spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. While adult males are mostly solitary creatures, most markhors have been found to live in groups of nine. It is believed that modern, domesticated goats are a cross between wild goats and the markhor. The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan.
They are considered to be endangered creatures, number only in the thousands. Hunting is the primary reason for the population decline, as their beautifully cork-screwing horns are seen as excellent trophies for huntsmen. The horns are also used for medicinal purposes in traditional Asian medicine, and can bring up to $2200 per pound. In India, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is illegal to hunt markhors, with the exception of trophy hunts in Pakistan, using the money from the very expensive markhor permits towards their conservation and towards the local communities.