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"That's as worthless as a pile of Zhek droppings!" ~Common Saying   The strong but dim-witted Zhek is a massive four-legged creature that has adapted well to the harshest environments across Alam Er. Towering at two to three times the height of a person and weighing as much as 17 tonnes, Zhek can be an intimidating presence until one realizes how docile they typically are. Unless frightened, threatened or angered - none of which are easy to do to a Zhek - these peaceful creatures spend much of their time stationary when not migrating or searching for for food.   There are two main type of Zhek; the most common of which are native to Khaamok (Alam Er's largest desert). The other classification of Zhek are the Hjuldzhek (literally, Ice Zhek or Frozen Zhek). These Zhek live in the frigid Hjuldmok, and unlike the common Zhek are rarely seen in any other region. The primary difference between the two species is that while the standard Zhek have a tough, almost hairless hide, the Hjuldzhek's tough hide is covered in thick matted hair.   Both species share all of the other physical traits they are know for - their pillar like legs, the two pairs of skin-flap frills on each side of their massive torso, their long fully articulated trunk/proboscis. The four frills on a Zhek each have a cartilaginous structure that allow them to flare outward. The undersides of the frills, and the Zhek's torso under the frills are filled with thousands of tiny capillaries. During the hottest parts of the day, Zhek will raise their frills to cool the blood, and lower their body temperatures. Hjuldzhek are rarely seen raising their frills, except on the hottest days during the short summers in the Hjuldmok. Some Hjuldzhek have also mastered the ability to raise their frills individually depending on their need too cool down. This behavior is almost unheard of in regular Zhek.   Zhek have tall, over-sized ears which provide them with superior hearing and aid in cooling. Zhek can even hear the sound of clouds gathering up to half a kilometer away, which is one reason they do not spook easily. Their large, bulbous eyes are very sensitive to wind, dust, sand, snow, and other flying debris, and therefore have nearly transparent lids that stay closed much of the time. This prevents damage, but it also limits Zhek sight to only a couple of meters when closed. In order to see through their lids, they are very photosensitive, which means they can see only slightly better when their lids are open during daylight. Their night vision, however, is excellent; a bright light shined in their faces will temporarily blind and stun them.   Zhek are a semi-omnivorous. In the species' native Khaamok, Zhek feed primarily upon insects as plant life is almost completely nonexistent in 95% of the region. It is important to note that insects in the region are much larger than their more common cousins, typically measuring one quarter to one half meter in length. When available, Zhek will consume plants and occasionally carrion, but they have no taste for living nor freshly dead flesh. On the rare occasion that a Zhek kills a non-insect creature, it will not consume the kill. If it remains available after rotting for a number of days, a hungry Zhek will then eat it.   Zhek have massive fat stores in their large torsos, and they can go days or even a week or more without ingesting food or water.

Basic Information

Genetics and Reproduction

Zhek birth live calves, after an average gestation period of 78 weeks. Zhek normally birth a single calf, however, twin calves happen in approximately one-third of a percent of births (three out of every thousand births).

Growth Rate & Stages

Zhek calves reach adolescence in eight to nine years, at which time they are nearly half of their adult size. Female Zhek reach sexual maturity at this age, and are able to reproduce. Male Zhek remain sterile until they reach full adulthood. Full adulthood occurs in both males and females around 20 years of age. This is the age at which they have generally reached their full size, though some may continue to grow for a few more years, but at a significantly slower rate. Males may begin to mate at this time if they are in an environment with plenty of females. Females generally choose the males they will mate with, and if there is a low female to male ratio, females will typically continue to mate with the same male each cycle. Fights between Zhek are uncommon, and there is rarely any showing of dominant behavior.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Zhek are commonly used to pull large wagons of goods, farm implements such as massive plows, and connected caravans of smaller wagons carrying passengers and goods. They are also extensively used in construction and demolition projects due to their massive size and strength, and the incredible strength and dexterity of their proboscis.
Conservation Status

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