Area of zoo
Asia
Enclosure status
Open
Population in the wild
7,500-9,999
IUCN status
Vulnerable
Latin name
Bos mutus grunniens
Order
Artiodactyla
Type
Mammals
Family
Bovidae
Region
China and India
Habitat
Grasslands on mountains and plateaus

Yak facts

  • Yaks can survive winter storms as cold as -40°C.
  • Yaks live between 4000m and 6100m, that's as high as 16 Empire state buildings stacked. 
  • Climate change is making yak farming much tougher, as warmer temperatures are causing more disease and inedible plants are now growing in their range, which is putting farmers livelihoods at risk.
  • Yaks can use their horns to dig through snow to uncover plants. 
  • Like cows, yaks have two stomachs to help digest nutrients from their food. 
  • Yaks were first domesticated 10,000 years ago by Qiang herdsmen domesticated yaks some 10,000 years ago
Baby yak at Whipsnade Zoo
© ZSL
Yak calf with mum
© ZSL

Our Yaks

Our yak herd are each named after characters in Harry Potter. We have Harry, Voldemort, Luna, Bellatrix, Hermione and Ginny. 

Baby Yaks at the Zoo

Born to Mum Hermione and Dad Voldemort at the UK’s largest Zoo on Thursday 26 March, the yak (bos mutus grunniens) calf will be named after its first health check, when vets will be able to determine its sex.

Baby yak lying down in the grass
© ZSL
Yak in China
© ZSL

Yak threats

The remaining wild yaks are at risk of extinction due to poaching, interbreeding with domestic yaks and habitat loss caused by farming and climate change. 

More facts about our animals

  • Wallaby at Whipsnade Zoo on frosty autumn morning
    Macropus rufogriseus

    Wallaby

    A wallaby pregnancy is only one month long, followed by nine months in the poach. They are only around 1cm long at birth.

  • Przewalski's horse walking through field with woodland backfrop at Whipsnade Zoo
    Equus ferus

    Przewalski's horse

    The Przewalski's horse is the world's only truly wild horse. Once extinct in the wild, together with our partners we helped restore Przewalski’s horses back to the wild in Mongolia. 

  • Two Marabou storks 'the undertaker bird' at Whipsnade Zoo
    Leptoptilos crumenifer

    Marabou stork

    Known as the 'undertaker bird', these storks gained their unfortunate nickname because of their huge, dark, cloak-like wingspan and diet of rotten carcasses.

  • Pere David’s deer adult and fawn at Whipsnade Zoo
    Elaphurus davidianus

    Père David's deer

    Extinct in the wild, our Père David deer are a part of breeding programme which is working towards restoring their wild population.

  • Greater one-horned rhino Hugo at Whipsnade Zoo

    Greater one-horned rhino

    Greater one-horned rhinos are the second largest species of rhino, after the white rhino

  • Our animals