Bighorn Ram Sheep
Mixed Media - Mixed Media
Bighorn Ram Sheep - a mixed medial portrait by Michele Avanti
I met this bighorn ram in Bandon, Oregon at the Wildlife Park. He was happy to have me take his picture. Though he was dusty and brown, starting to molt his wool, I decided to paint him with a little color to let his warm personality come through.
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The bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) is a species of sheep native to North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to 14 kg (30 lb), while the sheep themselves weigh up to 140 kg (300 lb). Recent genetic testing indicates three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: O. c. sierrae.
Sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia; the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. By 1900, the population had crashed to several thousand, due to diseases introduced through European livestock and overhunting.
Fighting for dominance or mating rights, males face each other, rear up on their hind legs, and hurl themselves at each other in charges of some 20 miles an hour. The resounding clash of horns can be heard echoing through the mountains as the confrontation is repeated—sometimes for many hours—until one ram submits and walks away. The animal's thick, bony skull usually prevents serious injury.
April 8th, 2018
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