The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo recently welcomed a new Przewalski’s horse foal. Born in May, the new horse can be seen with the rest of the herd in the Wild Asia exhibit from the zoo’s monorail. Przewalski’s horses, which are also known as Asian wild horses, were once extinct in the wild. Small populations of zoo-bred animals were reintroduced in China in 1989 and in Mongolia starting in 1992.
The Przewalski’s horse is one of seven wild equid species in the world. Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) wild equid programs represent six of those species, with the Przewalski’s horse being managed under an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP). An SSP strives to manage and conserve a select and typically threatened or endangered species population with the cooperation of AZA-accredited institutions. SSP programs develop a plan that identifies population management goals and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population.
Przewalski’s horses come from the arid steppes of Mongolia and China and it is believed that the species became extinct in the wild during the 1960s. Historic efforts by zoos in Europe and the United States have led to reintroduction efforts at various locations in Asia.
“The story of the Przewalski’s horse is a true success story,” says Martha Fischer, AZA Equid Taxon Advisory Group Chair. “Through impressive global partnerships, this unique endangered species was saved from extinction by international zoos. Through careful genetic and demographic management, our zoo herds are producing offspring that will both sustain our zoo populations for the long-term and also return horses to this species’ former rangeland in Asia.”
There are currently 111 animals in 21 AZA accredited institutions. Cooperative efforts between institutions in both North America and Europe continue with the goal of maximizing genetic diversity and supplying horses for the reintroduction sites.