Common Name: Bighorn Sheep

Scientific Name: Ovis canadensis

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Height: 5-6 Feet

Weight:   117-279 lbs.

Lifespan:  6-15 Years


  • Bighorn males, called rams, are famous for their large. curled horns.  These impressive growths are a symbol of status and a weapon used in epic battles across the Rocky Mountains.  These horn clashing matches can last hours until one male backs down and walks away.  the animal's thick, bony skull usually prevents serious injury.


  • As relatives of goats, they have balance-aiding split hooves and rough hoof bottoms for natural grip.  These attributes, along with keen vision, help them move easily about rocky, rugged mountain terrain.


  • Lambs are born each spring on high, secluded ledges protected from bighorn predators such as wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions.


  • Hunting, loss of food from livestock grazing, and disease from domestic livestock have devastated bighorn sheep populations.  Loss of habitat from development is an increasing threat.  At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were between 1.5 million to two million bighorn sheep in North America.  Today, there are less than 70,000.


  • Usually found in single sex herds of around 10 animals. In winters, mixed herds of 100 animals may form.


  • A male bighorn sheep's horns can weight as much as 30 pounds.  In older (7-8 year old) males the horns may begin a second curl, with a spread of 33 inches.


  • In winter, bighorn herds move to lower-elevation mountain pastures.  They eat grass, seeds, and plants, and regurgitate their food to chew it as cud before swallowing it for final digestion.




Currently at ZooMontana:

3 Individuals (no names yet)  Born Spring 2012.



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Common Name: North American River Otter

Scientific Name: Lontra canadensis

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Mustelidae

Length: 3.7 ft. (males; 3.2 ft. (females)

Weight:  11-30 lbs.

Lifespan:  Up to 14 years in the wild; Up to 25 years in captivity.


  • These otters swim by propelling themselves with their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies.  They also have webbed feet, water repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water.


  • River otters are members of the weasel family.  They hunt at night and feed on whatever might be available.  Fish are a favorite food, but the also eat amphibians, turtles, and crayfish.


  • They remain active in winter, using ice holes to surface and breath.  They can hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes.


  • Otters are very sensitive to water pollution and are often the first indicators of poor water quality.



Currently at ZooMontana:

Benjamin – Male Born (est) 2/2009
Amelia – Female Born (est) 2/2009



 Click HERE to Return to the "Meet Our Animals" Page.