August 11, 2008 -- Three Przewalski's (PREZ-val-skee) horse foals kicked up their hooves making a grand entrance at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park in California August 8.
The Wild Animal Park currently houses 17 of these critically endangered horses, including the new additions, born August 3, July 22 and July 19. Two more babies are expected soon. Foals are born after an 11-month pregnancy. Approximately 30 minutes after birth the babies must be on their legs and able to move with the herd.
Since 1974, 138 Przewalski's horses have been born at the Park. The first pair arrived in 1970, leading the way to a successful breeding program that has allowed the Park to participate in a reintroduction program in Kazakstan. The Przewalski's horse is an endangered species that at one time became extinct in the wild, but with reproduction and reintroduction programs, zoos and other conservation organizations have maintained this species.
The Przewalski's horse, originally found in Asia, was once considered to be the only true wild horse in existence. A research project being conducted by San Diego Zoo Conservation Research scientists may shed light on the genetic background of this species and its true origins.
The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park (more than half of which has been set aside as protected native species habitat) is operated by the not-for-profit Zoological Society of San Diego. The Zoological Society, dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats, engages in conservation and research work around the globe and is responsible for maintaining accredited horticultural, animal, library, and photo collections. The Zoological Society also manages the 100-acre San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo's Beckman Center for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by the Foundation for the Zoological Society of San Diego.