Size Head and body length: 210cm. Tail length: 90cm
Weight 200- 350kg
Gestation 11-11 ½ months
Life span around 20 years in captivity
Przewalski’s (sheh-vaal-ski) horses will eat grasses and other plants, just like other horses do!
They spend most of their day looking for food (foraging) and sources of water.
Przewalski’s horses live in steppe and semi-desert habitats, and were once found across Europe and Asia. However they are now found in very small numbers in western Mongolia and northern China.
Just like other members of the horse family, Przewalski’s horses live in groups of females and their young that are led by a dominant male (stallion). When young males are mature, they are chased out of the group and will often stay with other young males to form a ‘bachelor’ group.
Most births of Przewalski’s horses are from May to June, and just after an hour of birth the foals are able to stand, take their first steps and first drink from mum. Just a week after giving birth, females can come in to season and mate again! After a few weeks, the young foals will start to graze on grass after a few weeks, but will not be fully weaned from their mother until around 8 to 13 months old. They are fully mature by 2-4 years old.
Wolves are the main predators of these animals in the wild, and they will mostly hunt young foals.
To protect themselves Przewalski’s horses will often stay together in herds, as there are more animals to look out for any threats.
Przewalski’s horses have faced a dramatic decline in numbers in the last century, and in the 1960’s were classed as ‘Extinct in the wild’. This status was later reviewed as at least one adult horse was found in the wild, so their status was then classed as ‘Critically Endangered’.
These animals have an uncertain future, as they still face threats such as loss of genetic diversity, breeding with domestic horses (hybridization), as well as competing for sources of food and water with livestock animals. The hunting of these horses has been prohibited since the 1930’s.
The Przewalski’s horse has been involved in many captive breeding programs across the world. Due to the success of these programmes, there has been reintroduction programmes put in place to introduce captive bred horses in to protected areas in Mongolia, where they were once found in the wild.
Further research and conservation programmes have been put in place to ensure the survival of these animals out in the wild, and captive breeding programs in zoos is still ongoing.
The Przewalski’s horse was discovered in the 1870’s and was named after the Russian explorer that found them, Nikolai Przewalski.
All of the Przewalski’s horses alive today are descendants from around 14 individuals that were the basis of the captive breeding programme for these animals.
Having visited as a child, I felt that the Zoo has something to offer all ages and personalities and was proved right during our visit. We all had a fantastic time and really can’t thank you and the team enough for making it so enjoyable.NHS Stop Smoking Service, 31st March 2015