Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s biggest investment in an animal exhibit to date, Lion Pride Lands, officially opened at Easter, and continues to prove popular with locals and travellers alike. But there’s more in store for visitors to enjoy this year, with yet another exciting precinct and the Zoo’s newest development ‘Wild Herds’, opening in June.
Visitors to the Zoo will have seen the Wild Herds construction site evolving, located in the second half of the Zoo circuit. Wild Herds has been designed to showcase the Takhi (Przewalski’s Horse) – the last wild horse species, native to the steppes of central Asia, for which the Zoo has a well-entrenched breeding program. Most recently, female Przewalski’s Horse foal, ‘Dash’, was born on New Year’s Day this year and can be spotted on exhibit with the rest of the herd in the current Przewalski’s Horse exhibit.
A key milestone in the Zoo’s history with this species was the release of seven Przewalski’s Horses back into the wild in the mid-1990s, and the progeny of those animals still roam Mongolia today. The Przewalski’s Horse is an incredible species that was once extinct in the wild, but thanks to the efforts of worldwide Zoo-based breeding programs (including Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s breeding program) its status has changed to critically endangered and now endangered. New arrivals including Dash further strengthen the Zoo’s breeding success for this important species.
Once open, visitors will be able to wander through the Wild Herds precinct, which consists of a replica Mongolian village setting with viewing across to the herd of Przewalski’s Horses. An impressive deer walkthrough will offer the opportunity to enjoy close encounters with a friendly herd of up to 25 Fallow Deer (pictured).
The new Wild Herds precinct is expected to be open in the second half of June.
About the Przewalski’s Horse: There are now almost 2000 Przewalski’s Horses in human care and in the wild today, which is a huge step forward for this species. Prior to reintroduction programs, Przewalski's Horses were last seen in the wild in the 1960s in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their number dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats include habitat loss and low genetic diversity.