The Legend behind the Takin: Bhutan’s National Animal

Takin National Animal of Bhutan
Takin in Takin Preserve Thimphu Zoo


There is an interesting myth behind the creation of the Takin ((Budorcas Taxicolor) that contributed to its high religious significance and therefore led to its adoption as Bhutan’s national animal.

Legend has it that in the 15th century when Lam Drukpa Kunley also referred to as “The Divine Madman” arrived in Bhutan from Tibet he delivered religious teachings to the people whereupon they requested him to conjure up a miracle. He agreed, on the condition that he would be fed lunch – a whole cow and a whole goat.

Doing as he commanded, the people offered him his massive lunch. The Tibetan saint devoured the flesh of both the animals and left out the bones. Then he fixed the head of the goat onto the body of the cow and with a snap of his fingers uttered a mantra. The animal instantly sprung to life and began grazing on the meadows. He then named it the “Dong Gyem Tsey” (Takin).

A Takin Preserve in Motithang houses these unusual looking animals where visitors can observe them and take pictures if they want. Takin is a vulnerable species of goat-antelope, native to Bhutan, India, China and Tibet.

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