Przewalskis Horse

Przewalski's Horse

Equus ferus przewalskii

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts
Height: Shoulder height 4' to 4.5'
Weight: 440 to 660 lbs
Wild diet: Low-fiber vegetation such as grasses and hay with occasional bark leaves, or buds
Zoo Diet: Grain and mixed grass hay
Distribution: Mongolia (formerly China, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany)
Habitat: Open plains and semi-desert

Przwealski's horses are also known as the Mongolian wild horse, Asian wild horse, and Dzungarian horse. In Mongolia, the horses are known as "takhi," which means "spirit". These horses are central to Mongolian national heritage. Przewalski's horses rely primarily on their senses of hearing and vision. They have wide-set eyes, which gives them a wide field of vision. Their only blind spot is directly behind their head. Meanwhile, they have large ears that they can swivel to localize sounds.  Przewalski's horses indicate their moods by positioning their ears, mouths, and tails and are very shy and alert: they are constantly cautious of potential predators. They spend most of their time foraging for food in the desert and then travel during the evening.

Description

Przewalski's horses are dun-colored with a dark stripe down their spine and a dark brown, erect main. Their belly is typically a lighter cream color and their legs typically carry some degree of black coloration, especially toward the hoof. The lower part of the tail is covered in long, black hair while the upper part is covered in shorter, lighter-colored hair. The Prezewalski's horse is a stocky, short-legged, and thick-headed horse with a very robust jaw.

Status in the Wild

Przewalski's horsed were listed as being extinct in the wild from the 1960's until the 1990's, when they were reassessed as being critically endangered, because at least one individual was found to be living in the wild. Because of zoo breeding programs and reintroductions, there were at least 50 free-ranging, mature individuals in the wild in 2007. As of 2011, there are at least 306 wild individuals. All Przewalski's horses that are currently alive are descended from a core group of 13 or 14 breeding individuals. Przewalski's horses are currently endangered because of disease, hybridization with domestic horses, and loss of genetic diversity through inbreeding. Habitat destruction also contributes to their small population size. Their small population is very susceptible to climate change. The winter of 2009/2010 caused the population in the wild to drop from 137 to 49.

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