Colorado Zoo is Helping the Comeback of This Endangered Species
The Przewalski’s horse was listed as extinct in the wild in 1969 but is ever so slowly making a comeback thanks to the conservation efforts of several institutions, including the Denver Zoo.
These social animals are also known as Mongolian wild horses and are the only remaining species of wild horses that have never been domesticated. They roamed freely around Europe and Asia for more than 160,000 years prior to facing extinction.
Harsh winters, pasture competition with livestock, mining expansion, and overhunting led to the drastic population decline of Przewalski's horses. Wolves and humans are known to prey on these mammals in the wild.
Despite multiple institutions' breeding and reintroduction efforts to help re-establish the dying population, the Przewalski’s horse is still considered critically endangered. In 1992, sixteen captive-bred horses were reintroduced into protected areas in the steppe region of Mongolia. According to the Denver Zoo, by 2005, the free-ranging population rose to 248 Przewalski’s horses.
The current world population of Przewalski’s horses is approximately 1500. All of these wild horses descended from 13 animals that were placed in zoos in the early 1900s. The Morrison Animal Foundation explains that the largest wild herd of Przewalski’s horses lives in Hustai Nuruu National Park in Mongolia.
Zoos and other scientific institutions also use GPS satellite tracking to monitor the horses that have been released into the wild. The tracking collars help to provide insight into the survival of the species.
The tan color of these unique horses helps them blend into the grassland and desert of their natural habitat. The average lifespan of a Przewalski's horse is between 20-25 years. Herds typically consist of one stallion and four to 10 mares along with their offspring.