When footage of an unusual animal appeared online, people couldn’t believe it was real. Viewers quickly called it a “goat monster” because of its bizarre appearance. But the real story behind it is just as surprising as the creature itself.
A YouTube video shared on March 20, 2018 declares the beast to be the “world’s ugliest animal.” And people were so shocked by it that the clip soon went viral. It racked up over 350,000 views within three weeks of its release.
The unbelievable video shows the animal in a pen. There, it stands on its hind legs, with its front hooves on the fence. It also makes an occasional noise while studying its surroundings. The creature’s body resembles a goat, but its face is what makes it look so abnormal.
Although its long neck and legs render it taller than your average goat, it has a short snout and face. The chin juts out and its features are hard to distinguish. So when the clip was released online, people didn’t hesitate to brand the beast “ugly.”
“That is… disturbing,” one YouTube user commented on the animal. Another person described the male creature as “a monster”; one even went so far as to brand it “the devil itself.” However, others seemed impressed and intrigued by the strange entity.
A few commenters pointed out that the creature wouldn’t be out of place in a Star Wars movie. YouTube user Joe Zoc added, “I think he looks awesome. Right out of a science fiction book.” And though the animal’s appearance divided people online, in the Middle East it is in fact considered very “beautiful.”
The mysterious creature has now been identified as a Damascus goat from Egypt. The breed originates from Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon, and it is not only highly admired and desirable, but can be sold for large sums of money. And not just for farming purposes – Damascus goats are also kept as exotic pets.
The breed was described by Newsweek as “the bulldog of goats.” It boasts a number of nicknames, including “the Aleppo, Halep, Baladi, Damascene, Shami, or Chami,” according to the magazine. Damascus goats are esteemed for their high-quality milk and meat. Their hides are also coveted for leather production.
A doe, or female goat, can produce 11 pounds of milk each day. And according to GoatFarming.in, lactation can last over 200 days. One reason their milk is in such high demand is because it’s easily digested. But perhaps the biggest draw of the breed is a doe’s ability to give birth to as many as four kids at once.
Interestingly, a young Damascus goat looks noticeably different than an adult. Its face has the appearance of a regular goat, so that it can feed from its mother without difficulty. But what is most striking about the kids is their distinctive ears.
Baby Damascus goats possess remarkably long ears that seem to curl towards the ground. These are often chopped into short stubs for easier upkeep, as seen on the animal in the viral video. Looking at a fully grown Damascene goat next to a kid, it’s hard to believe they are the same breed.
Damascus goats are also popular for crossbreeding. People in possession of a Shami will often mate it with other goats, which may account for the animal in the video. That way, its most coveted qualities – including admirable meat and milk production – are transferred to less sought-after breeds.
Indeed, Damascene goats are so heavily hybridized that they have helped to establish other breeds of goat as a result. These include Anglo-Nubian and Indian goats. And because their traits are so coveted, animals don’t come cheap.
According to World News Australia, Shami goats considered to be particularly attractive can sell for 30,000 Saudi riyals ($8,000) or more in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, many animals were displayed at Riyadh’s Mazayen al-Maaz festival, which translates to “Beautiful Traits of Goats.” The finest specimens were reportedly worth 250,000 Saudi riyals ($67,000).
Competing Damascus goats are carefully evaluated by a panel of experts. They are judged on all aspects of their bodies, but the face is the most crucial attribute. World News Australia reported how the owner of the 2008 festival’s winning goat had sold the animal as a kid. He repurchased his beloved beast at auction and vowed never to part with it again.
“We bought it back to our ownership, thank God,” Mohammed al-Hawasi told World News Australia. He added, “Now, even if it were worth half a million, we won’t sell it.” But although these owners have no plans to part with their goat again, the rearing and trading of farm animals remains a prominent Saudi tradition.
For many people who viewed the viral footage, the Damascus goat is unlike anything they had seen before. But the breed has actually been around for hundreds of years. It can even be found in Arabic stories and mythology, as well as religion.
Shami goats originate from the Middle East. But during the 19th century the animals were transported to Cyprus by the British. It was there that they were mated and reared on a large scale. The fact they can thrive in a wide variety of climates has only added to their appeal over the years.
Even though Damascene goats date back centuries, inbreeding has been increasingly harnessed in order to pass on genes from the most strange-looking animals. Extreme breeding is a growing trend, but experts have warned that it can cause medical problems for goats. It seems the “goat monster” in the video was one example of this, as its features were more dramatic than others of its breed.
The clip first appeared in a Facebook group for goat trading in Egypt, suggesting the goat’s owners might be willing to part with it for a price. Taking into account the reputation of these unusual creatures, and the number of times the viral video has been viewed, it seems that the popularity of Damascus goats is only going to increase.