Fluffy 5-month-olds Murphy and Lena move in at zoo's Cascade Crest habitat
There's plenty of kidding around at the Oregon Zoo this week as two young Rocky Mountain goats settle into their new home. The fluffy 5-month-olds — a male named Murphy and a female named Lena — will join adult mountain goats Sassy and Montane in the rocky Cascade Crest habitat near the zoo's main entrance.
"We are so happy to welcome these kids into the herd," said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's Great Northwest area. "They started scampering around their new habitat right away, and soon enough Sassy and Montane will be showing them the ropes."
The new goats may be young, but they've quickly mastered the art of hopping from rock to rock. Mountain goats have split hooves that can spread wide to improve their balance, and rough pads on the bottom help them grip slippery surfaces. Cutting predicts a lot of climbing, jumping and playing from the two kids in the coming months.
The kids arrived at the zoo as part of a collaboration among the Oregon Zoo, Northwest Trek, other zoos and wildlife agencies to relocate mountain goats out of the Olympic mountains, where they are non-native — introduced there by a hunting group in the 1920s — and have become a threat to local wildlife.
"These kids came from Olympic National Park, so we're especially grateful we can provide a home for them here," Cutting said. "Mountain goats are a non-native species in those mountains, and it's critical for that unique ecosystem that they be removed"
Over the summer, staff from the National Park Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the USDA Forest Service, together with animal care staff from Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek, worked together to move goats from the Olympic National Park and Forest to staging areas, where they were examined by veterinarians before translocation.
Since September 2018, a total of 275 mountain goats have been translocated. The majority were moved to their native Cascade Mountain Range, where they will help restore depleted populations, but several of the youngest kids — including the zoo's new arrivals — are being raised in human care, where they have the best chance of survival.
In the Pacific Northwest, wild mountain goats live on various peaks in the Washington Cascades and across Oregon ranges like the Elkhorns and Wallowas. More information about mountain goats and the Olympic conservation plan can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oreamnos-americanus.