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Ellinor joins the herd

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Ellinor joins the herd
October 24, 2019
mountain goat kids
Ellinor, in front, with Daughter goat (left) and others from the herd.

She’s named after a mountain, but she’s the smallest of the herd.

As her human care team watched closely, little mountain goat Ellinor – one of ten kids cared for at the wildlife park after recent mountain goat relocation efforts in the Olympic Mountains – trotted out to the Free-Roaming Area Wednesday morning to meet the rest of the Northwest Trek herd. There to meet her were the five yearling goat kids who’d found a home here after last year’s relocation project, and an older nanny. And while there was some initial surprise all round, it was soon clear that the new kid on the block had found a family.

The Exam

Ellinor’s day started with an exam.

goat kid exam
Clockwise from left: Keepers Deanna Edwards and Skylar King, and veterinarian Dr. Allison Case, examine Ellinor.

“We’re giving her a brief physical, with a dewormer and some vitamins, minerals, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory to help her with the transition,” explained veterinarian Dr. Allison Case, heading to the barn where all ten kids had been living behind the scenes since September. “It’s a bit like humans taking extra vitamins before a long plane trip.”

The kids, like the five yearlings, represented a successful collaboration by Northwest Trek, regional zoos and government agencies to relocate mountain goats out of the Olympics, where they are non-native, and restore depleted populations in their native Cascade range.

Moving Goats

Over several weeks in August, staff from the National Park Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the USDA Forest Service, together with staff from Northwest Trek and Oregon Zoo, worked together to capture goats from the Olympic National Park and Forest, carrying them by helicopter in specially-made slings to staging areas at Hurricane Ridge and Hamma Hamma. There they were examined and prepared for the journey by Case, Northwest Trek veterinary technician Tracy Cramer and vets from other agencies.

mountain goat kid face

Nine of the ten kids given a temporary home at Northwest Trek will soon be finding homes at other zoos. But Ellinor, named for a mountain in the Olympic, near where she live, was about to join the herd in Northwest Trek’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area, along with bison, moose, bighorn sheep and other animals.

After gently darting and carrying an anesthetized Ellinor to the vet clinic, Case and her team weighed Ellinor (nearly 63 pounds) and began the exam. As Case examined her eyes, heart and lungs, keeper Skylar King trimmed her hooves while keeper Deanna Edwards supported her head and Cramer prepared medications. Ellinor gave gentle, sleeping sighs, her thick creamy coat rising and falling. Tiny white curls nestled between her one-inch horns.

Then the team settled her into a crate in the van, and Case reversed her anesthesia. It was time to discover a wide new world.

Time to roam

Out in the Free-Roaming Area, keeper Dave Meadows had already located the herd on the forest’s edge of the first meadow, and scattered some food. Along with zoological curator Marc Heinzman, the care team drove up and carried Ellinor’s crate onto the grass.

Case opened the door. Immediately, Ellinor scampered out to explore. Bleating softly, she approached first the yearlings, then the nanny, nicknamed “Daughter” goat. Daughter wandered over to a patch of sunlight and Ellinor followed. Soon Bailey and Fairchild – the two female yearlings – came to investigate, then males Elwha, Klahhane and Rocky, who are already twice Ellinor’s size. After some circling, posturing, lifted noses and flattened horns, the herd eventually settled down, munching on the dewy grass.

seven mountain goats
All seven mountain goats in the Free-Roaming Area. Ellinor is in the center.

Behind them, a bison bull ambled over to eat the leftover food, joined by a curious black-tailed deer. In the crisp fall sunlight, the scene was idyllic.

“She’s going to be fine,” commented Edwards, who along with Meadows will check on Ellinor every hour for the next few days to make sure she settles in. “They’ll show her where to find shelter, food and water.”

Veterinarian, technician, keepers and curator all piled back into the vehicles and slowly drove off.

“We’re really pleased to be able to give Ellinor – and all these goat kids – a home,” said Heinzman. “And we’re glad we can be part of restoring this species to its native range.”

In the sunshine, Ellinor wiggled her tail and nibbled some grass.


SEE THE GOATS: Our seven mountain goats, including Ellinor, can be seen with bison, bighorn sheep, elk, deer and other free-roaming animals from a Discovery Tram Tour, free with park admission, or a Keeper Adventure Tour.