Meeting the Przewalski Horses

 

If there had been no Przewalski Horses bred in zoos there would be none left. There are around now about 240 left in the wild that were reintroduced into Mongolia.
It was a pleasure to spend time with this herd at the Nuernberg TierPark. It is their policy to spend time with the animals so they will not be so stressed when they have to be handled.

Przewalski’s horses are the last surviving subspecies of wild horse. First described scientifically in the late 19th century by Russian explorer N. M. Przewalski, for whom the horse is named, the horse once freely roamed the steppe along the Mongolia-China border.
With a short, muscular body, Przewalski’s horses are smaller than most domesticated horses. They have a pale belly and beige to reddish-brown coat that is short during summer and thicker and longer in winter. Their muzzle is white, and they have an erect and dark mane that lines their large head and neck. They stand about 12 to 14 hands tall at the shoulder, or about 48 to 56 inches (122 to 142 centimeters), and weigh about 440 to 750 pounds (200 to 340 kilograms).

Considered a wild subspecies because its ancestors were never domesticated, the extinction in the wild of the Przewalski’s horse was due primarily to interbreeding with other domesticated horses. About 1,500 exist today, a large number living in zoos, but many also making up the herds that have been reintroduced at several sites in Mongolia.

While their greatest threats today include a loss of genetic diversity, their extinction in the wild was also brought on by hunting, loss of habitat, and loss of water sources to domestic animals.

Exchanging breath by flowing gently into the nose of this yearling is a beautiful way to connect.

Exchanging breath by blowing gently into the nose of this yearling is a beautiful way to connect.

Turning sideways and giving the back of my hand is another way to connect. It is similar to a handshake in terms of connecting. I am fascinated how many horses sniff first with one nostril, then the other, then back to the first nostril, and just keep sniffing and shifting back and forth. It forms very personal yet non-threatening connection.

Turning sideways and giving the back of my hand is another way to connect. It is similar to a handshake in terms of connecting. I am fascinated how many horses sniff first with one nostril, then the other, then back to the first nostril, and just keep sniffing and shifting back and forth. It forms very personal yet non-threatening connection.

 

Further trust is established when I am allowed to scratch and ttouch between the jowls. What a gift!

Further trust is established when I am allowed to scratch and ttouch between the jowls. What a gift!

Squatting down and allowing a back and forth sniff of the back of the fingers creates curiosity. "Who is this person?" I think these yearlings might ask.

Squatting down and allowing a back and forth sniff of the back of the fingers creates curiosity. “Who is this person?” I think these yearlings might ask.

 

© 2015, Linda Tellington-Jones. All rights reserved.

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