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Study English Online: ESL Intermediate Story

Read the story and practice with the questions.

The Takin


1. If you travel abroad and dare to reach the Himalayas, you will be in the natural country of takins (say TAH-kin). Takins resemble both goats and antelopes in their features. They have few predators, only wolves and bears, because of their exceedingly tough horns and large bulk. While some animals live haphazzardly, takins have organized social groups. When one group member notices a predator, they make a large coughing sound that alerts everyone.

2. Takins routinely travel between the upper regions and lower regions of mountains. In the spring, they form large herds of about a hundred animals and migrate upwards toward the treeline where they can eat sufficiently. In the winter, when food is more scarce, they migrate down the mountain in smaller groups of between ten and thirty animals. Though they are large animals, they are comparatively swift when they leap from rock to rock while escaping a predator. 

3. In America, takins are exclusively found at zoos. They are not native to our continent. Indeed, they have extreme adaptations for weathering harsh terrain. They have special nostrils which warm the air before it reaches their lungs. This allows them to weather life in the Himalayas. Due to habitat loss, they are now a protected species in China. American zoos have been successful in raising newborns. Theoretically, information from both zoos and natural experiments will give us enough information to allow this interesting animal to survive.

Answer the Questions (answers are at the bottom of the page):

1. What is the main idea of this story? 

A. Takins are an endangered species from the Himalayas.

B. Takins are a combination of goat and antelope.

C. Takins are Asian animals that migrate through the mountains and are now a protected species.

D. Takins have comparatively large horns compared to other antelopes.

E. No one knows why takins migrate from the upper to the lower regions of mountains.

2. Which statement is an inference, not a fact?

A. Takins have large horns.

B. Takins can move swiftly in rocky terrain.

C. Takins are able to warm air before it reaches their lungs.

D. Takins lost their habitat because of farming and human population increase.

E. Takins are able to breed in captivity.

3. Which statement is true, according to the passage?

A. Zoos are making an effort to save the takins.

B. The Chinese are doing nothing to save the takins.

C. Many groups are helping the takins to breed in captivity.

D. There are fewer than one thousand takins in the wild today.

E. Takins are not protected in India.

4. Match the words with their definitions:

                                   abroad                       a. not done in an organized way     

                          exceedingly                b. done on a regular schedule

                     haphazzardly             c. as compared to another

routinely                    d. in fact      

       sufficiently                 e. having enough

          comparatively            f. out of the country

                      exclusively                  g. in extreme, very much so

                               indeed                        h. according to thought or theory

                                  theoretically              i. only for one or for a select group

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answers: 1. c, 2. d, 3. a, 4. abroad: f, exceedingly: g, haphazzardly: a, routinely: b, sufficiently: e, comparatively: c, exclusively: i, indeed: d, theoretically: h