Mountain Goat

Oreamnos Americanus       studied by Dalton Short April-May 2012

Kingdom: Animalia                                                                                                       Phylum: Chordata                                                                                                              Class: Mammalia                                                                                                      Genus: Oreamnos                                                                                                          Species: O. americanus

Mountain Goat morphs into Turkey Vulture

Animated GIF


An adult Mountain Goat, lying in grass.

An adult Mountain Goat, lying in grass. (1)


This animal was almost entirely new to me at the start of the observations. Before this class I had not seen one up close. Choosing to study the Mountain Goats was influenced by my Chinese zodiac sign.

There is a band of Mountain Goats at the Woodland Park zoo, two at least. This is where I will study them. I can tell the difference between the two goats at the zoo because of their size differences. I will commute every Friday and observe this animal for at least three hours by taking notes and sketches of the environment and animals.



Conservation Status: Least Concern                                                                     Original Observation site: Woodland Park Zoo                                                      Original Geographic Location: Northwest U.S. and Canada

Habitat of Mountain Goats

Habitat of Mountain Goats. (2)


Natural History


Two baby Mountain Goats

Two baby Mountain Goats. (3)


Scientists believe the American Mountain Goat migrated and are originally from Asia. They traveled across the Bering Land Bridge about 600,000 years ago.(

Animal Summary:

This animal is sometime referred to as the Rocky Mountian Goat, but this is a poor classification because the species is found west of the Rocky Mountains. Mountain Goats are characterized by humped shoulders, long narrow heads, a shaggy coat and stiff manes surrounding their neck and rump. They typically weigh between 100-300 pounds. Their horns typically reach lengths of 3-5.5 inches long. Mountain Goats are known to be very territorial. ( Goat, White Lies)


Mountain Goats are herbivores, consuming mostly grasses, leaves, ferns and herbs. In captivity, they’re know to eat fruits and vegetables as well.


Cultural History


-In 1991, the American folk band, “The Mountain Goats”, is formed.Drawn Mountain Goat head

-Billy Goat tavern owner Billy Sinnis placed a curse on the Chicago Cubs from ever winning a World Series again after he was asked to leave the stadium because the smell of his pet goat was too awful to bear.

-In the New Testament, Jesus likened his true followers to sheep and false followers to goats.

-The goat is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Those born in this year are predicted to be shy, introvert, creative and perfectionist.

Mountain Goat Close-Up

Mountain Goat Close-Up. (4)

In 2010, A hiker in the Olympic Mountains was killed by an aggressive Mountain Goat. The hiker was trying to shoo the animal off a hiking trail when the animal attacked him. When help arrived the Mountain Goat would not let anyone near to assist him. (


Engraving of a Mountain Goat hunt

Galle, Philips. Mountain Goat Hunt. Amsterdam: The illustrated Bartsch, 1578. ARTstor. JPEG.




This is the oldest visual representation of Mountain Goats I could find.




Skeleton of Mountain Goat

Skeleton of Mountain Goat (5)

I began a series of weekly observations of two Mountain Goats at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA in early April. Each week I would drive to the zoo and observe the goats for three hours at a time researching what they eat, how they sleep, when they’re most active and so much more. Eventually I began attempting to bridge the metaphorical gap between us. I tried to figure out why they would behave one way one day, then differently the next.

Observation Excerpts:

Large drawn Mountain Goat

Large drawn Mountain Goat

4/20/2012-One goat is sleeping on the cliffs in the sun while the other disappears for hours at a time. Where is he going off to?

5/3/2012-The Mountain Goats have never looked at me. Does their behavior or attitude towards human affect me? Does their behavior affect my behavior?

5/20/2012-The Mountain Goats have begun shedding large amounts of hair recently. It comes off in handfuls and covers low branches and bushes.

5/20/2012, 6:19 p.m.- One of the goats acknowledges my presence, for the first time.

Creative Writing


Ekphrasis of Mountain Goat image

Ekphrasis of Mountain Goat image. Grickson, Dave. Animals of the Canadian Rockies. October 21, 2010. Online website. JPG file.


Reflective Writing

– Every Observation has been uniquely the same. The Mountain Goats perform the same actions and motions with differing energy levels throughout the day. On a superficial level I witness no aggression, yet no compassion either. No happiness or sadness. Not to suggest that they weren’t at the point of observation displaying these traits, only that I’ve been incapable of observing their emotions, if any exist.




Douglas B. Houstan, Edward G. Schreiner, Bruce B. Moorhead. Mountain Goats in Olympia National Park: Biology and Management of an introduced Species. Washington D.C.: U.S. Dept of Service, 1994. Print

Lyman, R. Lee. White Goat, White Lies. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1998. Print

Tempesta, Antonio. Standing Mountain Goat. Vienna: The Illustrated Bartsch, year unknown. ARTstor. JPEG.

Galle, Philips. Mountain Goat Hunt. Amsterdam: The illustrated Bartsch, 1578. ARTstor.  JPEG.

Grickson, Dave. May 2012. (1) (2) April-May 2012 May 2012 (3) (4)[]=tags&q=mountain+goats (5)