San Clemente Island Goat
- Found only on San Clemente Island
- Relatively small, though slightly larger than dwarf breeds, fine-boned and deer-like
- Typically red or tan with characteristic black markings, though a wide range of colors and markings are occasionally seen today
- Both sexes have horns that resemble those of Spanish goats, though they are not of Spanish origin
- Have very gentle temperaments
- Zoo has three males; all are named for famous football quarterbacks
According to local legend, the goats found on San Clemente Island were descended from those brought to the island by Spanish explorers. They actually came with a sheep rancher in 1875. Over the years, they became feral and populated the island. The U.S. Navy took over the island in 1934 and goat hunting and trapping was allowed until 1972.
By then, goat population was estimated at more than 15,000 animals – on just a 57-square-mile island. This overpopulation was destroying the island’s native plants and disrupting its ecology. The U.S. Navy then began systematic removal efforts, which included trapping and culling. Six thousand of the goats were trapped and brought to the mainland for domestication.
This information comes from the Livestock Conservancy, which lists San Clemente Island goats as “critically endangered” with a population of less than 1,000.
Identify “The Guys”
- Were brought to the American Southwest by Spanish explorer Don Juan Onate more than 400 years ago
- Have a lustrous “double-coated” fleece, which can grow up to an inch a month
- Their wool is used for rug weaving by the Navajo people and in other fiber arts
- The Navajo shared this breed with early European migrants on their way to California
- Zoo’s sheep have fleece trimmed twice a year; left-over cut hair is a favorite enrichment item of many other animals such as birds who use it for their nests
- Zoo has three females: Retsina and Retsina’s daughters, Denise and Cookie Monster
Listed by the Livestock Conservancy as “threatened,” with a population of less than 5,000.
From the Keepers
”Denise is very comfortable around people, and acts as if we are part of her herd. She’s been trained to wear a harness and goes on walks around the Zoo.Melanie, mammal keeper
Identify “The Girls”
- Species come from western Africa, and are thought to be among the first breeds of domesticated pigs brought to the U.S.
- Also called Pineywoods guinea, Guinea forest hog, acorn eater, and yard pig
- Once was most popular breed on homesteads in the U.S. Southeast, but was nearly extinct only 10 to 15 years ago
- Are omnivores that eat a wide variety of plants and small animals
- Are often kept as for pest control as they also eat mice, rats, and snakes
- Known for their docile disposition
- Love their bellies rubbed, and will roll over to be scratched
Listed by the Livestock Conservancy as “threatened” with a population of less than 5,000