The chamois is a mountain-dwelling goat-antelope from Europe.


Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), Toronto Zoo.

In the wild chamois live in various mountains in Europe, but they were also introduced to New Zealand. Like most bovides chamois are herbivorous. Like their cousins the goats chamois are well adapted to climb on piles of rocks.


Chamois leather is soft and smooth and absorbent and it is so well known that other products of similar quality are named after it. The English word ‘shamwa’ is an alternative spelling of sorts of ‘chamois’ which is originally a French word. Shamwa and shammy are sometimes applied to the live animal in some countries, but more often they are just used to mean leather products made of chamois skin and also to various artificial products that resemble chamois leather in softness or absorbing ability.

Further Readings:

Chamois on Wikipedia.
Chamois on the Toronto Zoo website.
Chamois leather on Wikipedia.
Last updated: December 3, 2014

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