Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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San Clemente Island Goat

Capra aegagrus hircus

San Clemente Island goats are a Heritage Breed of goat that is critically endangered. This unique breed was discovered running feral on San Clemente Island off the coast of California by the U.S. Navy, which culled the herd to about 4,000 before the Fund for Animals began a program to domesticate them on North American farms and preserves.

Range & Habitat

San Clemente Island, which is located about 65 miles west of the coast of San Diego, California. In the 1980’s, thousands of goats were removed from the island and resettled on the main lands of U.S. and Canada, in an effort to return this breed to domestication.

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Critically endangered due to eradication from their home island and a lack of familiarity with their breed among most farmers.


In the Wild: Fresh weeds, grasses, bark, leaves, twigs, vegetables.

At the Zoo: Timothy hay, alfalfa, fruits and vegetables as treats, and some grains.

Life Span

In the Wild: Unknown; In Human Care: 10-22 years.

Fun Facts about the San Clemente Island Goat

  • Both sexes of San Clemente Island goats have horns. As the males age, their horns become larger, eventually sweeping out to the sides of their heads and curling.
  • San Clemente Island goats are considered a Heritage Breed. Being allowed to run feral on a remote island for decades preserved their distinct genealogy. As a result, their genes are valuable to agricultural heritage and future sustainability.
  • San Clemente Island goats have rectangular pupils that give them enhanced peripheral vision as a protection from predators. The rectangular shape allows their eyes to capture more light close to the ground (where they are grazing) and filter out light from up above.


Carroll, J. F., & Wegener, C. (n.d.). San Clemente Island Goat Foundation.

         Retrieved May 5, 2020, from         history


Champ, A. (2018, February 19). The Mysterious Goats of San Clemente        Island. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from http://rarebeastsproject.

Cooper, T. (2019, June 20). Breed Profile: San Clemente Goats. Retrieved    May 5, 2020, from      breeds/breed-profile-san-clemente-goats/

Updated June 13, 2023
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