Rare Javan bantengs born in Polish zoo

Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Two Javan bantengs, belonging to a cow species considered endangered, were born in the Wrocław Zoo, in south-western Poland.

The Wrocław Zoo has the only conservation breeding centre for these rare animals in Poland.

Their population has decreased over the past 10 years as a result of unsustainable agricultural crops and deforestation, and due to the natural habitats of these animals being crossed by roads.

Currently, around a thousand animals from this species live in the wild.

"Bantengs are also victims of pseudo-medicine," said the president of Wrocław Zoo, Radosław Ratajszczak. "Asians believe that their ground horns, when added to dishes increase vitality, which obviously is nonsense. The keratin found in banteng horns is no different from the structural protein found in human fingernails," he added.

The first bantengs were delivered to the Wrocław Zoo in 1992 and their first offsprings were born four years later. So far, 11 representatives of this species have been born in Wroclaw with some of them being sent to conservation breeding centres around the world.

Bantengs live in herds of 10 to 30 and can be found in open, dry deciduous forests and more densely forested areas of Bali, Java, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. They eat mainly grass, but also fruit, herbs, bamboo shoots and shrub branches.

Male bantengs have dark brown or nearly black coats, are very muscular with large curved horns. Females are red-chestnut in colour and also have horns, although less impressive then those of their male counterparts.