New stallion is the “mane” attraction at Whipsnade
Tuesday 31 July 2007
Size really doesn’t matter if you’re the only stallion with three mares to choose from. That’s the lucky position little Nikki finds himself in at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
The male Przewalski’s horse has just been introduced to the herd of females in the large paddock at the Asia drive-through with the hope that he will mate and the zoo will soon hear the patter of tiny hooves.
Mares Attie, Jane and Tuli are all in tip top condition for breeding and the zoo has been given the go-ahead to breed as part of the European breeding programme.
Hence male Nikki, from Mautern Zoo in Austria, has been introduced to do a bit of speed dating and hopefully take his pick of the ladies.
Malcolm Fitzpatrick, ZSL curator of mammals, said: “It is fantastic to have a Przewalski’s stallion at Whipsnade, giving us the opportunity to breed from such a fine, rare species.”
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Notes to editors
- Przewalski’s horses are the only breed of wild horse still in existence. They are genetically different from the domestic horse, having a number of different chromosomes.
- They were first discovered by Russian Colonel Nikolai Przewalski in 1879.
- Przewalski’s horses live in cohesive, long term herds, led by a senior female. A male is on the periphery and there are 2 or 3 junior mares and their offspring. They can cover vast distances in search of food.
- They originate from Mongolia, Eastern Asia.
- Breeding Przewalski’s horse has a strong history at Whipsnade in recent years and in 2001 a horse bred at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Priscilla, was reintroduced to Mongolia.
- Przewalski’s horses eat a diet of grass, leaves and buds.
- The Mongolian red list of threatened species reclassified the Mongolian Przewalski’s horse from “extinct” in the wild, to “critically endangered”, after recommendation from an international working group co-ordinated by scientists from ZSL. In 1945 there were only 31 horses in captivity but by the early 1990s there were over 1500 and reintroductions began into their harsh, native environment of Mongolia. The reclassification represented a huge milestone for large mammal conservation.
- The Mongolian Red List compilation was initiated and funded by the World Bank and implemented by ZSL in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Nature and Environment, and have recently been adopted by the Mongolian government. More information can be found here: Regional Red Lists website
- The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has signed an agreement with the Mongolian Government during the Mongolian President’s state visit to the UK to work to conserve the unique wildlife which has undergone catastrophic declines over the last 15 years.
- Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide.