The Animal Facts Editorial Team
April 21, 2023 12:01 am
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, London, The United Kingdom
Zookeepers from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are celebrating the birth of a Prezwalski's Wild Horse to their herd of this endangered species which was once extinct in the wild.
The foal entered the world on April 13 2023 and is part of the European Endangered Species Programme for the species. At present he is starting to explore the habitat and stretch his legs.
Mother Charlotte had been monitored by staff in recent weeks in anticipation of the birth. A number of visitors present at the zoo on April 13 were able to witness the moment that the foal took its first steps.
Zookeeper Luke Pharoah said: “Our team filmed the youngster’s first tentative steps moments after being born, which gave us all an immense feeling of hope for this Endangered species.”
The foal has been named Luujin (pronounced Lor-jin), meaning “compass” by ZSL conservationists working in Mongolia.
ZSL’s Mongolia Country Director Tungaa Ulambayar said: “Luujin’s name symbolises moving in the right direction for this species – from Extinct-in-the-Wild to roaming in their native habitat once more, which is an incredible collective achievement for conservationists. Luujin is a reminder of the incredible potential of conservation zoos to bring species - quite literally - back from the brink of extinction.”
Luke added: “We are delighted to have boosted the population of these incredible, Endangered animals – the last remaining species of truly wild horse left in the world.
“While we monitored Charlotte’s pregnancy carefully, we also knew that, as an experienced mum, she would know exactly what to do. She’s been naturally very protective of Luujin, nudging him along gently in the spring sunshine, so we’ve kept our distance and have been delighted to see that he is suckling and developing well.
“After his wobbly first steps, Luujin is now just starting to stretch his legs and try to gallop - visitors to our conservation zoo will be able to watch him finding his feet with the rest of the herd this spring.”
The przewalski's wild horse was listed as extinct in the wild until a number of animals bred in captivity, including some from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo were released there. With numbers across Mongolia, Ukraine and China now rising they were reclassified by the IUCN Red List to Endangered in 2011.
The przewalski's wild horse has never been tamed and cannot be ridden like a domestic horse. They also have two more chromosomes with 66 compared to the 64 of a domestic horse.
Image: © ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
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