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Big Horn Sheep, Living Desert

One of the male big horn sheep at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, CA. Bighorns are widespread dispersed in the western mountains of North America - from Canada to California and Mexico. The Desert Bighorn subspecies is only found in the southwestern deserts. Desert Bighorn are so few in numbers and are well-secluded in their rocky habitats that they are seldom seen. Their natural habitat is the arid, desolate rocky ranges that jut up from the low desert plains.

The desert bighorn are regal with massive spiraled horns, gracefully lined faces and stocky muscular bodies. They are smaller than other bighorn sheep weighing about 110-150 lbs and standing about 30-39 inches high at the shoulder. Horn size is a symbol of rank. Male horns can weigh as much as 30 lbs.


The U. S. population of the Desert Bighorn found in the Peninsular Ranges of southern California is on the federal Endangered Species List. They are endangered primarily due to loss of habitat from urban development and from decimation of herds from viral respiratory infections that affect lambs.

Taken at about noon, so the lighting was not very ideal. Post processing included cropping, increased contast and saturation, dodging, resizing and unsharp masking.

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Additional Photos by Ken Ilio (flip89) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 538 W: 173 N: 576] (3418)
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