Four rare foals are “thriving” at a conservation centre in the US.
The Przewalski’s horse foals — three colts and a filly — were born between March and June and are living in a herd with their mothers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Virginia.
This is the first time in 28 years that the zoo has had this number of foals at one time.
“Native to Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, Przewalski’s horses are listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” said a SCBI spokesman.
“They were once extinct in the wild, and all the Przewalski’s horses alive today are descended from 14 individuals.
“SCBI scientists study Przewalski’s horse reproductive biology and have developed assisted reproduction techniques to help build a self-sustaining and genetically diverse population in human care.
“In 2013, the first Przewalski’s horse born as the result of an artificial insemination was born there.”
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The filly, born on 20 March, is called Dahlores, but the colts have not yet been named and the SCBI is asking the public to vote from a list of names, inspired by the biology and ecology of Przewalksi’s horses.
Keepers have reported that the colts all have very different personalities — the eldest is outgoing and confident, while the second is particularly shy. The youngest is “indecisive” and is said to be still learning how to be a part of his herd.
SCBI ecologists also study Przewalski’s horses in the wild and have been learning about the movement and behaviour of horses reintroduced to Hustai National Park in Mongolia, by tracking them with GPS tags.
This year, 35 foals were born in the park, 28 of which have survived through their first critical months.
“The survival of [so] many of the foals proves that the horses reintroduced to the wild are thriving,” said a SCBI spokesman.
“A healthy population capable of producing foals will be necessary to establish herds of free-ranging Przewalski’s horses in the wild.”
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