Rare Foal Springs Into Scotland

A spunky Przewalski’s Horse was born on April 30 at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.  Once extinct in the wild, Przewalski’s (pronounced Shevalsky’s) or Mongolian Wild Horses have been reintroduced to their native habitat thanks to the efforts of several European zoos.

700_0449Photo Credit:  Highland Wildlife Park/Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

The little foal, which has not yet been named, follows its mother Val around the drive-through reserve and appears to be healthy and strong.

Found in the steppes of Central Asia, Przelwalski’s Wild Horses are the last surviving species of wild Horse and are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Formally listed as extinct in the wild in 1969, the IUCN reclassified Przelwalski’s Wild Horses to Endangered after the species was successfully re-introduced into their native Mongolia in 1992.

Though zoos have had success breeding this species and they have become reestablished in the wild, Przelwalski’s Wild Horse populations are still considered precarious, partly due to threats from poachers. 

Zoo Basel Welcomes a Critically Endangered Somali Wild Ass

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A Somali Wild Ass has been born at Zoo Basel in Switzerland! The foal, named Lakisha, was born quickly and easily on March 27. Zoo Basel is a world leader in the conservation of this Critically Endangered species: Lakisha is the forty-first Somali Wild Ass to be born and raised at this zoo since 1972.

Mom Djara gave birth to her foal in the middle of the day. Coming head and front legs first, Lakisha plopped into the straw and was on her feet just half an hour later! It took another half an hour for the filly to nurse from her mother for the first time. No one was present at the birth and Djara could bond with Lakisha in peace.

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8 foalPhoto credit: Zoo Basel

Lakisha’s father, Gigolo, has been living at Stuttgart Zoo in Germany since last November. The breeding of Somali Wild Asses in captivity is coordinated by a European Endangered Species Program, helping to ensure that pairings avoid inbreeding and produce healthy offspring. 

The Somali Wild Ass and Nubian Wild Ass are subspecies of the African Wild Ass. According the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are fewer than 1,000 African Wild Asses remaining in the wild. Their major threats are hunting for food and medicinal purposes, and competition with livestock for forage and sources of water.  The Somali subspecies occurs in small populations in Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

See more photos after the fold.

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Five Wild Ass Foals Boost Endangered Species

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A record five Somali Wild Ass foals were born between August 19 and October 15 at the Saint Louis Zoo, making a significant addition to the zoo population of these critically endangered animals. Only 51 Somali Wild Asses live in zoos, with 11 at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Photo Credit: Robin Winkelman/Saint Louis Zoo


Meet the foals:

  • A male named Hirizi (Swahili for charm or amulet) weighed 48 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Farah (which means joy or cheerfulness) weighed 58 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Luana (which means enjoyment) weighed 53 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Tristan (which means clever one) 66.5 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Rebel weighed 52 pounds at birth.

The father of all five foals is Abai, who came from Switzerland’s Basel Zoo in 2005. Abai has had a total of nine offspring born at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The Somali Wild Ass is a critically endangered member of the Horse family, with only 1,000 individuals surviving in desert areas of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. An expanding human population, subsistence hunting, and poitical unrest in the region threaten the Somali Wild Ass’s future.

The youngsters have the same markings as their parents – gray body, white belly, and horizontal black stripes on the legs, similar to Zebras.

The Somali Wild Ass is the smallest of all wild Horses, Asses and Zebras. Adults stand about four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh about 600 pounds. Long, narrow hooves—the narrowest of any wild horse -- enable the animals to be swift and surefooted in their rough, rocky habitat.

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Przewalski's Foal Takes First Steps at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

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A new Przewalski's foal was born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in England, helping to preserve a species that was once extinct in the wild. The male foal was born on October 26 and is the first to be born at Port Lympne in almost a decade.

Due to hunting and competition with livestock for water and pasture, Przewalski’s horses became extinct from Mongolia, their last refuge in the wild, in the 1970s. Through a cooperative captive-breeding program, the species has been bred in captivity and protected. After successful reintroductions to the wild, Przewalski’s Horses were listed by the ICUN as Critically Endangered, before being revised in 2011 to Endangered. The birth of a new foal at Port Lympne is therefore another vital step in continuing to protect this rare species. 

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5 horsePhoto credits: Dave Rolfe / Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

Bob Savill, head of hoofstock at the park, comments, “It is great to have a new Przewalski’s foal as we have previously repatriated Przewalski’s Horses via China and Mongolia, which we’re hoping to start up again soon.  He is doing remarkably well considering the weather!”

Przewalski’s Horses are adapted for survival in marginal habitats, particularly dry grassland, and they can survive on fibrous vegetation that has a low nutritional value. They are also extremely hardy, as they are adapted to withstand winter temperatures that are as low as 40 degrees below freezing. As Przewalski’s Horses have never been tamed for riding, they are the last truly wild horse in existence today.

Visitors can catch a glimpse of the new foal at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park as they ride on the 'African Experience' safari trucks. 

An Endangered Przewalksi's Horse Joins the Herd at Highland Wildlife Park

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Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland have just welcomed their first new-born Przewalski’s horse in five years. Born on September 2 to 12-year-old mare Ieda, the plucky little youngster is doing well and can already be seen out and about in the Park's main reserve.

Przewalski’s horses were once extinct in the wild, with the last wild horse seen in 1968. A small captive-bred population was reintroduced in Mongolia's Hustai National Park in the 1990s. There are now around 1,500 Przewalski's horses found in captive breeding programs throughout the world, with a further 250 or so found in the wild. Now listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, they are the only true wild horse species to survive.

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4 horsePhoto Credits: Highland Widllife Park

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections for the Highland Wildlife Park, says, "Przewalski's horses are one of the best examples of the positive conservation role that good zoos can play. Had it not been for the cooperatively managed captive population, when the species became extinct in the wild in the late 1960s there would have been no reintroduction option that has allowed us to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat."

See and learn more about the herd after the fold.

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First Wild Horse Born from Artificial Insemination at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute


In a huge breakthrough for the survival of an endangered species, the first Przewalski’s Horse to be born via artificial insemination was delivered at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) on July 27.  



Photo Credit:  Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

SCBI reproductive physiologist Budhan Pukazhenthi and the Przewalski’s Horse husbandry team spent seven years working closely with experts at The Wilds and Auburn University in Alabama to perfect the technique of assisted breeding. Both the filly and the first-time mother Anne are in good health and bonding.

“It seems reasonable to assume that reproduction for the Przewalski’s Horse would be similar to domestic Horses, but it simply isn’t the case,” said Pukazhenthi. “This is a major accomplishment, and we hope our success will stimulate more interest in studying and conserving endangered equids around the world.” 

Anne was born at SCBI and is the daughter of a mare imported from Europe and the most genetically valuable stallion in the U.S. The filly’s father Agi also lives at SCBI. The Przewalski’s Horse is considered the last wild Horse on the planet, although it is often mistaken for a breed of domestic Horse, the Norwegian Fjord. Little is known about wild equids despite the extensive knowledge of domestic Horses.

Read more and see additional photos below the fold.

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Endangered Przewalski's Foal Born at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo celebrated the birth of an Endangered Przewalski's (sheh-VAL-skee’s) Horse foal, on the morning of May 31. The unnamed foal, whose gender is still not known, is not only the first birth for mother, Yisun, and father, Bataar, but also the first birth of its species at Denver Zoo since 1991. The foal is quietly exploring its yard under the watchful eye of its mother, but guests can see them both from the zoo’s main pathway.

The Przewalski’s Horse is considered the only remaining, truly wild horse in the world, and may be the closest living wild relative of the domesticated horse. There are a number of other wild equine species, including three species of zebra, and various subspecies of the African wild ass, onager and kiang.

Captive breeding programs, supported by zoos, helped keep this species from disappearing completely from the globe. Recent estimates indicate that there are now more than 300 in the wild and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as Endangered. Denver Zoo has a small herd, which helps support these efforts. This new foal is an exciting addition to the world population!

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Przewalski’s Horses, also called Mongolian Wild Horses or Asiatic Wild Horses, once roamed throughout Europe and Asia. Today they are only found on reserves in Mongolia and China and in zoos around the world. The species was actually extinct in the wild for almost 30 years, before reintroduction projects began in the early 1990’s. The horses faced a number of threats that may have led to their extinction, including hunting, military activities and competition with livestock for resources.   

Learn more about Denver Zoo’s conservation programs at:

See more pictures after the fold:

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Przewalski's Horse Colt Continues Zoo Praha's Success With Species


Early on the morning of March 27, a Przewalski’s Horse was born at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Praha, the 219th member of this endangered species to be born at the zoo.   Przewalski’s Horses were once extinct in the wild and have since been reintroduced to their native central Asian habitat thanks to efforts of zoos and reserves around the world.

The colt, a male, was born to mother Jessica and father Len.  Despite chilly temperatures, the colt is nursing successfully and finding his way around the zoo’s enclosure.




Photo Credits:  Tomáš Adamec, Zoo Praha

Przewalski’s Horses, a subspecies of wild Horse, are thought to be the only remaining true wild Horses in the world.  After the last wild herds in Mongolia were wiped out in the 1960s, Zoo Praha and other European zoos held the only members of this species.  At one point, only 12 Przewalski's Horses were left in the entire world. 

Breeding programs in zoos and reserves successfully bred the few remaining horses, with individuals being exchanged among facilities to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible.  In 1992, 16 Przewalski’s Horses were released in the wild in Mongolia.  Additional releases in the decades since have increased the wild population, but they are still classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Taronga Zoo Sees Double with Birth of Two Critically Endangered Foals

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Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia have double the reason to celebrate with two Przewalski’s Horse foals born just three days apart, the first on January 29, and the second on February 1! Both foals are fillies, and will grow up to take part one day in the important breeding program for this endangered species.

Mothers Genghis and Suren are showing all the right maternal behaviors in caring for their offspring. Keepers have witnessed the foals feeding well from the time they were able to stand. Keeper Jackie Stuart observed, “Both foals are quite outgoing and enjoy a little gallop around the paddock and after a drink, have a nap in the sun at their mothers’ feet.” 

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Photo Credits: Jackie Stuart/Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“This is Genghis’s second foal, so she is taking it all in her stride and is less concerned and protective of her offspring," Jackie continued, "while Suren, a first-time mum, is being kept on her toes with her very curious foal.” 

Keepers have named one of the foals ‘Zaria’, meaning ‘sunrise’ in Russian, as foals are often born in the early morning. While the Zoo has named one of the foals, they are welcoming suggestions on a name for the second foal from members of the public via their Facebook page. The foal to be named is a curious but outgoing female -- and suggestions should also reflect the origin of the species being Mongolian or Russian. 

See more pictures of these foals after the fold!

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After 6 Years of Trying, Israel's Ramat Gan Zoological Center Succeeds!


Israel's Ramat Gan Zoological Center has succeeded with its first birth of an extremely rare Somali Wild Ass Foal on the 26th of April, Isreal's 64th Independence Day. The newly arrived foal was appropriately named Israela. Anticipating a 12-month gestation period, keepers kept the foal's father and mother separate until last Spring so that their baby would be born in the most favorable weather conditions. During mother Yelenyo's pregnancy, she was separated from father Abeba so that she would have a peaceful and interruption free gestation period.






Photo credit: Tibor Jäger

The Somali Wild Ass is critically endangered with only 350 wild individuals remaining in its native Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. There are only 130 individuals in captivity worldwide.