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Arrival of endangered species foal boosts lockdown spirits

The public might not be able to meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s newest arrival while the nation is in lockdown, but zookeepers have shared the first images of the endangered Przewalski’s foal.

The primitive species was first discovered in 1881 and was once declared extinct in the wild, although it has now been re-introduced in its native Mongolia thanks to efforts by conservationists including Whipsnade. It is considered the only truly wild horse still in existence.

The 600-acre Bedfordshire zoo is the largest in the UK and is home to a small herd of Przewalski’s, including the new filly’s dam Charlotte and sire Nikki.

The as-yet-unnamed foal was born on 13 April, and keepers said she was initially “hidden away” by her proud mum.

“The birth of a Przewalski’s foal is a real cause for celebration; they’re considered to be the last remaining truly wild horse in the world, and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is proud to be part of their conservation success story,” said Mark Holden, team leader at Whipsnade.

“This is the first female we’ve had born in a little while as the last three foals were boys, so we’re hoping to ask our colleagues in Mongolia to help us choose a name.”

Zookeepers added that now Charlotte has loosened her watch on her filly, she can often be seen racing around the paddock.

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“It’s really sad that we can’t share our excitement with visitors right now, but the birth of this endangered foal is another example of the incredibly important work we do; and why we need support. If you can, please help us by visiting our website; every donation helps,” Mark said.

ZSL also operates London Zoo, which celebrated its 192nd anniversary on 27 April. Both zoos are currently closed for what has been the longest period in their history.

We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.

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