Przewalski’s Horse

After the “rediscovery” of Przewalski’s horse for western science, many foals were captured for western zoos, animal parks, and for breeding purposes.

After the rediscovery of Przewalski’s horse for western science, western zoos and wild animal parks became interested in this species for their collections. Several long expeditions were mounted to catch animals. Some expeditions came back empty-handed and some had only seen a glimpse of wild Przewalski’s horses.

It proved difficult to catch adult horses, because they were too shy and fast. Capture of foals was considered the best option as when chased they would become exhausted and lag behind their group, although this may have involved killing adult harem members in the process. That the wild horse was a prestigious gift, denoting its rarity and that it was difficult to catch, is also demonstrated by the presentation of a Przewalski’s horse to the emperor of Manchuria by Chechen-Khansoloj-Chalkaskyden, an important Mongolian, circa 1630.

Four expeditions that managed to catch live foals took place between 1897 and 1902. Fifty-three of these foals reached the west alive. Between the 1930s and the 1940s only a few Przewalski’s horses were caught and most died. One mare, Orlitza III, was caught as a foal in 1947 and was the last wild mare to contribute to the Przewalski’s horse gene pool in Europe. In Mongolia several Przewalski’s horses were captured and crossbred with domestic horses by the Mongolian War Ministry.


Image | © Kai Schreiber, Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sources | Bouman & Bouman, 1994; King, Boyd, Zimmermann, & Kendall, 2015

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