Feel Good Sunday: Denver Zoo Welcomes Mongolian Horse Foal

By Noelle Phillips of the Denver Post

“This ‘Feel Good Sunday’ installment strikes a special cord in the collective hearts of Terry and myself as only 3 short years ago we trekked on horseback across Outer Mongolia seeking out and documenting the only few hundred prehistoric ‘Takhi‘ wild horses still remaining on this planet (we refrain from using the western name of Przewalski as his discovery lead to the horse’s ultimate demise and virtual extinction).  It was a touching and eye opening experience so we are pleased that one new Takhi life has been added to this planet, all be it captive.  One day our North American wild horses and burros may be in the same boat that these Asian wild horses are, hence our journey to see what a country is doing to try to put the horses BACK where they belong instead of ripping them from their rightful range.  Enjoy! (Click (HERE) to read more about our Trek)” ~ R.T.

A long-legged wild horse foal is following his mother around a Denver Zoo enclosure after being born Thursday. The Przewalski’s horse was the second of his kind to be born at the zoo since 1991, a news release said. Guests can see mother and foal from the zoo’s main pathway.

Przewalski’s (pronounced sheh-VAL-skees) horses also are known as Mongolian wild horses or Asiatic wild horses. They once roamed Europe and Asia but today are found only in the wild in Mongolia and China, the zoo said. There are an estimated 380 in the wild.

The species was extinct in the wild for 30 years before reintroduction projects began in the early 1990s.

The Denver Zoo helps support captive breeding programs that have prevented the animal from becoming extinct, the news release said.

7 comments on “Feel Good Sunday: Denver Zoo Welcomes Mongolian Horse Foal

  1. Apparently Rick Lamb needs to be educated about “feral free roaming horses that are descended from domestic horses”. Really fun watching how this gal trains – certainly is successful for her.

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  2. Really cool to see, thanks RT! Do you know what the parents’ names mean: mother, Yisun, and father, Bataar~ (I mean surely you guys learned the whole Mongolian language on your visit, right? haha 🙂

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  3. Wild horse genome reveals hidden costs of domestication /GENETIC IMPACT OF DOMESTICATION
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-09/cp-a1y091715.php

    The world’s last wild horses, the Przewalksi’s horses, might help us understand the effect domestication has on a genomic scale.
    Przewalksi’s horses, discovered in the 1870s in the Asian steppes, are the planet’s closest thing to wild horses. They faced extinction, but due to a committed conservation effort in the 1960s, more than 2,000 individuals remain. Most of them are living in reintroduction reserves.

    A research team, including Ludovic Orlando of the University of Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum of Denmark, sequenced the complete genomes of eleven of the remaining wild horses and five historical, museum specimens. They compared them to the genomes of 28 domesticated horses. In this way the team is able to “assess the genetic impact of more than 100 years of captivity in what used to be a critically endangered animal,” as Dr. Orlando told Sci-News.
    The findings, which are published by in the journal Current Biology, show that 110 years of captivity have had a negative impact on the Przewalksi horses. The horses had lower genetic diversity and increased inbreeding. They also had signs of domesticated genes, hinting that domesticated horses might have mixed with the breed.

    The greatest genetic differences between domesticated and wild horses appeared to involve metabolism, cardiac disorders, behavior, reproduction, muscle contraction, and signaling pathways, according to a press release.
    Orlando did have some good news for the horses: “Even though Przewalski’s horses went through an extreme demographic collapse, the population seems to recover, and is still genetically diverse… There is, thus, hope for endangered populations, fighting similar demographic issues.”

    This study is the latest in Orlando’s quest to map out the genetic changes of domestication. In 2014, he conducted a similar study investigating which genes were favored as horses turned from wild animals to humans’ companions.
    As Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research told Reuters in response to Orlando’s last study, “Comparing ancient genomes to modern genomes is tricky.”

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