PORTLAND, Ore. — Visitors don’t need to go far to see the Oregon Zoo’s newest resident: a precocious 2-day-old mountain goat kid.
Sassy, one of the zoo’s adult mountain goats, gave birth over the weekend, and can be seen with her new kid amid the rocky crags of the Cascade Crest habitat just past the zoo’s main entrance.
While mothers of some species keep their newborns hidden away for several weeks, mountain goat kids are typically on their feet within minutes after birth, quickly learning to navigate their sparse and rocky alpine environment.
Sassy’s kid was no exception, according to Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s Great Northwest area.
“She gave birth between 8 and 8:20 Saturday evening, and her kid was already on its feet by 8:30,” Cutting said. “We saw it do a playful hop less than an hour after it was born. Mountain goat kids are extremely precocious.”
Zoo animal-care experts had been aware that Sassy was pregnant and saw signs of labor early Saturday afternoon, so they kept a close watch into the night. They will continue to observe the pair to ensure all is going well, but Sassy doesn’t seem to need any help, according to Cutting.
“Although Sassy’s a first-time mom, she grew up in a herd and has seen other births before,” Cutting said. “So far, she’s been very attentive and is nursing her kid regularly. The two have been heard vocalizing to each other and they seem to be bonding well.”
Caregivers won’t know whether the new kid is male or female until its first veterinary check, probably in about a week.
Cutting said the zoo’s other adult mountain goats — male Honovi, who is the father, and female Montane — seem unconcerned about the new arrival, and have been giving Sassy and her kid some space to get acquainted. Montane is also believed to be pregnant, and could give birth within a month.
“We’re excited that Sassy went first, so Montane has a chance to observe her and hopefully learn a few things,” Cutting said.
Montane, who moved here in 2009, was an orphan rescued by Idaho wildlife officials, and has not experienced a birth before.
Mountain goats are known for their amazing climbing and balancing abilities. Last summer, Cutting got iPhone video of Sassy and Montane enjoying an energetic bout of poetry-in-motion parkour.
In the Pacific Northwest, wild mountain goats live on various peaks in the Washington Cascades and across Oregon ranges like the Elkhorns and Wallowas. They also can be seen on the Olympic Peninsula, where they are non-native — introduced there by a hunting group in the 1920s — and have become a threat to local wildlife.
In March, the National Park Service announced plans to relocate 90 percent of the Olympic mountain goat population to its native range. The Oregon Zoo has contributed $5,000 toward transport enclosures to aid in the effort.