(Capra aegagrus blythi)
Goats are the most commonly kept dairy animals in the world. There are more goats than cows, for example, in Africa.
At the Bowmanville Zoo we have a flock of West African Pygmy Goats. These goats live in villages across west Africa in deserts, grasslands, bushland and rainforest. Their tiny size means even in small, barren areas the goats can find enough to eat. The goats will even climb trees to eat leaves if no other food is available. Goats can be kept for milk by even the poorest people in areas where a cow could not survive.
Pygmy Goats are the smallest members of the goat family. They usually have two tiny babies each spring. Pygmy goats can be found in many colours but the Nigerian Pygmy goats are usually blue grey with large horns and the Cameroonian goats tend to be black with small or no horn. Ours are of the Cameroon descent.
Currently Bowmanville zoo has a flock of 30+ goats.
Facts & Myths
- Goats will not eat anything, but they are the least fastidious of all the hooved animals in their grazing and browsing, eating plants which most other animals would spurn. And they will chew on paper and clothing too. But they won’t, as legend has it, eat anything!
- Goats, dogs and pigs are the oldest forms of domestic animals. They were domesticated in the Middle East from the Bezoar wild goat about 12,000 years ago. Probably because hunters brought home orphaned goats for their children to play with. Goats being both intelligent and family-oriented, bonded quickly with their human herders. The rest is history! There are now over 300 breeds of goats in the world. Some are kept for milk, some for meat and some for their hides. Pygmy goats outside west Africa are always kept purely for pets.
- In some parts of Africa goats are kept not only as livestock but also as a form of currency. In Kenya the Masai tribe still give dowries of goats for marriage. In 2000, a Kenyan man wrote to then-president of the USA Bill Clinton offering 40 goats and 20 cows for Chelsea Clinton’s hand in marriage in accordance with African tradition! This “very kind offer” was not accepted!
- Unfortunately, large scale goat keeping does destroy grasslands in Africa. Climate change and over grazing by goats has changed the land from what was a green and lush grassland into the Sahara desert we know today!
- Some ancient European legends claim that goats eat snakes, but that is untrue!
Goats at the Bowmanville Zoo
A recent Campbell’s Soup commercial starred one of our Pygmy goats, a white one called Billy! You may have seen the commercial on TV. If you did you will recognize him when you come to the zoo!
Our goats also appeared in Peter Benchley’s Amazon, just slightly misplaced continent-wise (in South America as opposed to Africa), but they had a great time on set chewing the artificial and expensive jungle foliage, much to the dismay of the show’s set managers!
Visitors can observe and feed the goats near the bridge spanning the creek.
Monkey biscuits suitable for feeding many of the zoos animals including the goats are available at the entrance and cost $2 per bag.
Never feed any of the zoo animals food that has not been provided by zoo staff. You could make them very sick.