Watusi breed reigns as ‘cattle of kings’

 

Though the first thought that may come to mind with the word “Watusi” is a crazy dance fad in the 1960s, that was just a frivolous flash-in-thepan compared to what the Watusi cattle breed represents.

 

The Watusi is one of the oldest breeds of cattle, dating back to 4000 B.C. These magnificent bovines have even made appearances in pictographs in the Egyptian pyramids. Watusi, also called Ankole, are known as the “cattle of kings” because they were owned by African kings for thousands of years. They are similar to the American Texas longhorn.

 

However, though Watusi are used for food and currency, they are less likely to be seen as beasts of burden or simply as a source of meat. In Africa, cattle are traditionally valued as ceremonial and symbols of wealth and power. Kings claimed and bred the most beautiful specimens — and ownership of Watusi cattle with large, well-shaped horns can help cement one’s position in society.

 

The Pueblo Zoo is home to one such magnificent status symbol.

 

Batik came to the zoo in 2015 as a 2-year-old donated by our own “bovine benefactors,” Terry Sajbel and John Hardy.

 

When he arrived, Batik’s horns looked like upsidedown ice cream cones.

 

They have grown to an impressive size but still have not reached their full potential.

 

Watusi are well adapted to extremely hot temperatures and dry conditions, making Pueblo a great place for Batik. He has become fast friends with Chilly Jane, a Scottish Highland cow (also donated by our bovine benefactors and named after daughter, Jane) and Patty, an Irish Dexter.

 

The goal of putting this mixed herd together is to showcase breeds from different parts of the world and illustrate how natural selection and breeding has shaped them.

 

Scottish Highlands cattle are bred primarily for meat. Their shaggy, longhaired coat helps themcope with harsh climates such as Scotland’s. However, they are also able to adapt to hot weather by shedding much of their double-layered coat. Irish Dexters are bred primarily for milk production and can produce more milk for their weight than any other breed. Visitors are invited to come and say hi to the zoo’s diverse mix-and-match herd and see what other differences they can spot.

 

 

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Pueblo Zoo  • 3455 Nuckolls Ave.  •  Pueblo, CO 81005  

Phone: 719-561-1452  Fax: 719-561-8986

 

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