Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of an endangered Przewalski’s (sheh-VAL-skee’s) horse foal, born 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 now.
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.
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.
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.