Tsu Sen Ar

The first of her kind to be born in the western hemisphere was a surprise zoo baby!
  • 1990s
  • 2000s

The takin keepers had a hunch that the female Mishmi takin was pregnant. The thing was, she didn’t really look pregnant, and she was a year younger than the recorded breeding age for the species. Other staff members were skeptical. But the keepers had noticed her behavior changing and her appetite increasing. And they thought they could detect a bulge in her abdomen when she reached out to nibble on browse.

As it turned out, they were correct, and in May 1993, a female calf was born, the first of this species in the Western Hemisphere. She caused quite a stir and many people came by for a look, all staring in amazement at the unexpected—by some—newcomer. The keepers decided that she needed a name suitably representative of her status, and started looking for the Mandarin Chinese words for “first born.” They made several calls, but no one believed they really had a newborn Mishmi takin—they thought it was a prank call and kept hanging up! Finally, a friend from China suggested Tsu Sen Ar, and the little “first born” was officially named.

Despite the uncertainty around her birth, Tsu Sen Ar was anything but tentative. From the start, she was exuberantly playful and got into everything. Once she and her mother left the protective back area and went into the exhibit, the first thing Tsu Sen Ar did was climb down into the moat—and then bleat because she didn’t know how to get back out. The keepers
provided a series of stacked logs to give her something to climb. She was also fond of running full speed at the keepers and banging into their legs—something young takins routinely do with each other and the adults, but the keepers found it a bit more challenging.

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