An endangered Przewalski’s Horse foal has been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo!
Once classified as extinct in the wild, the Przewalski’s Horse is a rare species of wild horse. Thanks to conservation breeding efforts by organisations, such as the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the species has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia.
The Przewalski’s Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is the last true wild horse. They are the only living, wild ancestor of the domestic horse that has survived to the present day.
They are named after Nikolai Przewalski, the Russian explorer who first brought specimens back for a formal description in the 1870s. But the first time the species was made known to the West was in the 1763 published accounts of a Scottish doctor, John Bell, who travelled with Tsar Peter the Great.
This wild horse has a stocky body with robust, short legs, a short neck and an erect mane. Typical height of the species is about 12–14 hands (48–56 inches, 122–142 cm), and their length is about 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in). On average, they weigh around 300 kilograms (660 lb).
The hooves of the Przewalski’s Horse are longer in the back and have a thick sole horn. This characteristic improves the performance of the hooves.
The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “Previously listed as Extinct in the Wild (EW) from the 1960s up to the assessment in 1996. The species was then reassessed as Critically Endangered (CR) due to at least one surviving mature individual in the wild. Successful reintroductions have qualified this species for reassessment. The population is currently estimated to consist of more than 50 mature individuals free-living in the wild for the past seven years. This taxon is threatened by small population size and restricted range, potential hybridization with domestic horses, loss of genetic diversity, and disease. As the population size is small, it is vulnerable to stochastic events such as severe weather. Equus ferus przewalskii qualifies as Endangered (EN) under Criterion D.”