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Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Click to see more.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Ovis canadensis nelson


Bovidae, the cow and goat family

Conservation Status

The population in the Peninsular Mountain Ranges of southern California is federally endangered.


North America and Baja California, Mexico


Rugged, rocky slopes; elevations of 1,000 -3,000 feet above sea level.


Bighorn sheep are specially designed for the unforgiving rocky mountain terrain they call home, from cloven hooves and use of vegetation for hydration to large domineering horns.

A bighorn sheep’s hooves are strong and split, which provide balance and grip as they forage for water-rich food, evade predators, or battle for dominance.

Males, called rams, have large, curled horns that are made of keratin. Their horns are used in battle with other rams, but also serve as a status symbol within the herd.

Bighorn sheep are threatened by disease, habitat degradation, care collisions, and habitat fragmentation due to urban and commercial development. The Living Desert actively supports the national conservation of this species through the leadership of the Species Survival Plan and local conservation efforts through collaborative efforts with local programs.

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