The Przewalski’s Horse was declared extinct in the 1960s and the small number of horses that reside in zoos have become pivotal in ensuring their on-going survival. The re-establishment of Przewalski’s Horse in the wild relies on the sound management of zoo-based herds. In their native homeland of Mongolia, where they are called Takhi, the first reintroductions occurred between 1992 and 2004. While hunting caused the Przewalski Horse’s extinction, the main threats to the reintroduced animals are hybridisation with domestic horses and competition for food and water with livestock.
Taronga has taken an active role in the international Takhi conservation efforts, contributing zoo-born horses for reintroduction to the wild in Mongolia.
The Zoo program aims to maintain the genetic variability of herds, as this will best protect Przewalski’s Horse from the health risks associated with in-breeding.
Where required, horses will be bred to support in-situ conservation projects reintroducing Przewalski’s Horse to thier original habitat.
Since the first Przewalski’s Horse were received by Taronga Western Plains Zoo in 1982, 34 foals have been born at Zoo. In June 1995 Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia relocated seven female horses to Takhin Tal in Mongolia. Four females died as a result of extreme winter conditions in 1995 and 2000, but by 2002 three mares had produced foals. In 2005 the Mongolian Takhi population numbered 87 animals in 7 groups, including one female from the 1995 re-introduction effort.