A rare Przewalski's horse foal was born to Western Plains Zoo on the 1st of January, 2018 to first-time mother Zaria. The new foal will join the herd of 11 Przewalski's horses kept at Western Plains Zoo. The Przewalski's horse is the last surviving subspecies of the wild horse (Equus ferus), and are native to central Asia. The horse species also goes by the name ‘takhi’, meaning ‘spirit’ in Mongolia.
“This foal has been named Dash, and she has certainly been living up to her name,” Keeper Pascale Benoit said.
“She is healthy and well, and has plenty of energy, especially in the mornings. She can be seen dashing around and even lets out a tiny, high-pitched whinny when her mother strays too far away.
“Dash is starting to become more independent, and while she generally stays close by her mother’s side, she is spending more and more time exploring and interacting with the herd,” she explained.
Image: Rick Stevens, Taronga Zoo
The foal’s father, Nikolai is vital to Taronga’s breeding program due to his important genetics, making him extremely valuable addition to the Zoo’s Przewalski horse breeding program at Taronga’s Western Plains Zoo.
In 1995, Taronga Western Plains Zoo flew five of their Przewalski horses to Mongolia, where they were successfully reintroduced to the wild of the Gobi Desert. Zoos contributed their bred Przewalski's horses to assemble the herd. The sub-species is now starting to expand in Mongolia.
“There are now almost 2000 Przewalski’s Horses in human care and in the wild today, which is a huge step for this species, that was once extinct in the wild,” Pascale said.
Before reintroduction programs, Przewalski's Horses were last seen in the wild in the 1960s in the Gobi Desert, in South Mongolia. Their number dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, the main threats they face include habitat loss and low genetic diversity.
Lead Image: Rick Stevens, Taronga Zoo