Domestic goat in exhibit

Domestic Goat

Scientific Name
Capra hircus
Geographic Range
First domesticated in West Asia
Domestic goat in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Not Evaluated Endangered Status Graph - Not Evaluated

More Information

Goats, along with sheep, were one of the earliest domesticated animals; estimates suggest this happened between 6,000–7,000 B.C.E. They provide meat, inexpensive yet nutrient-rich milk, and hair. They are ruminants, which means they chew their cud; once they have grazed, the food is brought up again from the first compartment of the stomach and then chewed a second time for thorough digestion. They also have uniquely rectangular pupils in varying eye colors. Two goat breeds live at the zoo.

Alpine goats are a larger breed from the Alps of France and Switzerland with no distinct color or pattern. They do have short hair, with males often sporting a strip of longer hair on their backs as well as pronounced beards. They are friendly, curious, hardy, and adaptable, and mostly used as dairy goats.

LaMancha goats have such small ears—under 2 inches in length—that some look like they have none. They are docile and good-tempered. Though they were first bred in the U.S., their genetic roots come from Spain.

Did You Know?

  • One of the main ancestors of the domestic goat is the Bezoar goat, which was native to the mountains of Asia Minor and the Middle East.
  • The hardiness and versatility of goats has made them an important part of subsistence agriculture around the world.
  • LaMancha goat ears are very small. Depending on their length, they might be called “elf ears” if they are longer, and “gopher ears” if they are smaller.
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