The takin (//; Budorcas taxicolor; Tibetan: ར་རྒྱ་, Wylie: ra rgya), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. The four subspecies are: B. t. taxicolor, the Mishmi takin; B. t. bedfordi, the Shaanxi takin or golden takin; B. t. tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan takin; and B. t. whitei, the Bhutan takin. Whilst the takin has in the past been placed together with the muskox in the tribe Ovibovini, more recent mitochondrial research shows a closer relationship to Ovis (sheep). Its physical similarity to the muskox is therefore an example of convergent evolution. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan.
The takin rivals the muskox as the largest and stockiest of the subfamily Caprinae, which includes goats, sheep, and similar species. Its short legs are supported by large, two-toed hooves, which each have a highly developed spur. It has a stocky body and a deep chest. Its large head is made more distinctive by its long, arched nose and stout horns, which are ridged at the base. These horns are present in both sexes, and run parallel to the skull before turning upwards to a short point; they are about 30 cm (12 in) long, but can grow up to 64 cm (25 in). Its long, shaggy coat is light in color with a dark stripe along the back, and males (bulls) also have dark faces. Four subspecies of takin are currently recognised, and these tend to show a variation in coat color. Their thick wool often turns black in color on their undersides and legs. Their overall coloration ranges from dark blackish to reddish-brown suffused with grayish-yellow in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in the Shaanxi Province. The legend of the 'golden fleece', searched for by Jason and the Argonauts, may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi). Hair length can range from 3 cm (1.2 in), on the flanks of the body in summer, up to 24 cm (9.4 in) on the underside of the head in winter.
In height, takin stand 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in) at the shoulder, but measure a relatively short 160–220 cm (63–87 in) in head-and-body length, with the tail adding only an additional 12 to 21.6 cm (4.7 to 8.5 in). Measurements of weights vary, but according to most reports, the males are slightly larger, weighing 300–350 kg (660–770 lb) against 250–300 kg (550–660 lb) in females. Sources including Betham (1908) report that females are larger, with the largest captive takin known to the author, at 322 kg (710 lb), having been female. Takin can weigh up to 400 kg (880 lb) or 600 kg (1,300 lb) in some cases.
Rather than localised scent glands, the takin has an oily, strong-smelling substance secreted over the whole body. This is likely the reason for the swollen appearance of the face. Due to this feature, biologist George Schaller likened the takin to a "bee-stung moose",. Their combination of features has also earned them the nicknames "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat".
Takin are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m (3,300 and 14,800 ft) above sea level. The Mishmi takin occurs in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, while the Bhutan takin is in western Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is a stronghold of both Mishmi, Upper Siang (Kopu) and Bhutan takins. An actively breeding herd of Takin in North America can be found at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. They are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. A captive population also exists at Minnesota Zoo in the United States. There is also a group of takin on display at the San Diego Zoo, The Red River Zoo in North Dakota, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island.