In recent times they were thought to be extinct, but the Przewalski’s horse is thriving at Dubbo zoo with a foal added to the herd.
On February 22 a female Przewalski’s horse was born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and ungulate keeper Anthony Dorrian said Nuruu was fitting in great with the rest of the animals.
Nuruu was named after Mongolian national park ‘Khustain Nuruu’, one of the few parks where Przewalski’s horse can be found in the wild.
She’s the fourth foal born to mother Suren and sire Stan.
“Her mother is extremely attentive, she’s been keeping her very close and Nuruu’s getting on very well with he rest of the herd. She’s charging around the exhibit and she’s even starting to vocalise now as well,” Mr Dorian said.
The Przewalski’s horse faced extinction but is now classified as critically endangered.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has had a significant role in their success. Since the horses started being bred in 1982 there have been more than 35 foals, and in 1995 the zoo sent five horses to Mongolia to be reintroduced into the wild.
While the zoo has no current plans to release more Pzrewalski’s horses in Mongolia, Mr Dorrian said the Dubbo herd was always there as a backup.
The animals look similar to a domestic horse, and they share a close history.
They don’t have the high profile of say lions and tigers and other big animals... these guys really just sit in the background.
“They are very closely related to the domestic horse and I understand numbers being so low, even in captivity, domestic horses were put through these guys to actually increase their genetic viability. The numbers grew and the genetics were comfortable enough that they actually started to breed out that domestic horse,” the keeper said.
The horses often miss out on the spotlight in Dubbo.
“They don’t have the high profile of say lions and tigers and other big animals, and people sometimes simply look at them as a horse... but it’s just one of those facts I suppose that not every animal can be at the peak of public interest. These guys really just sit in the background and they do their job quite well,” Mr Dorrian said.
Nuruu has been on display at the zoo since the day she was born. Later in the year it is expected she will be joined by some siblings.