The Mongolian Wild Horse: Another Story of Reintroduction

We actually have these animals at the Bronx Zoo.  They are called Mongolian Wild Horses, Przewalski’s horse, takhi, and Dzungarian horse.  Sadly, they were made extinct in the wild for the following reasons:

  • Competition with livestock.
  • Hunting . . . I guess people ate them.
  • Capturing of foals for zoos.
  • Several harsh winters.
  • Military activities in their terrain.

On the plus side, that third problem is also what is allowing them to be reintroduced into the wild.  This brings them up to critically endangered status.  They are another success story involving breeding and reintroduction.  This also makes them the only wild horse species.  Well, that and the fact that they are untamable even in captivity.  No, zebra and the like don’t count.  You can read a lot about their comeback HERE.

What are some cool facts about these horses?

  • They are actually distant cousins of domestic horses.  They share a common ancestor.
  • They have 66 chromosomes, which differs from the domestic’s 64.  This seems to allow them to produce fertile hybrids.  Typically, a hybrid cannot breed.
  • Wild horses are short and stocky with a large head.
  • They are hind-gut fermenters, which means they need to have a lot of water and low quality food.
  • Herds typically have a single stallion, but may have younger ones living on the edge of the territory.  Once they reach breeding age, they are chased out of the herd.  This is why you will also find bachelor herds.
  • N.M. Przewalski is the first person to scientifically describe this species, which is why his name is attached to them.
  • The first general documentation of these horses are rock paintings from Spain and France, which are more than 200,000 years old.
  • Wild horses have a variation of brown colors, but their bellies are always lighter colored and their backs are always darker.  They also have a zebra-like mane.
  • Currently, they are only find in reintroduction sights within Mongolia, China, and Kazahstan.
  • In order to deal with 90 mph winds, they will face away from the wind and tuck their tails between their legs.  This protects their eyes, nose, and genitals.
  •  Their greatest predator is the wolf.  Mares will create a circle around the foals to protect them since they can easily be run down.
  • Wild horses go through hypodermis in the winter.  This means their metabolism slows down, which makes them eat food at a slower rate.
  • All living wild horses are descended from a group of 13 breeding horses, which were protected when they went extinct in the wild.

Let’s look at some pictures and videos.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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26 Responses to The Mongolian Wild Horse: Another Story of Reintroduction

  1. Always nice to learn about something like this. With a gene pool of 13, they aren’t exactly out of the woods yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this wonderful post, Charles.


  3. V.M.Sang says:

    These reintroductions are great. I hope they succeed.
    There have been quite a few reintroductions around the world. Red kites in the south of England, and sea eagles in western Scotland. Both are doing well.
    But a big problem is not these animals, but those either deliberately or accidentally introduced to places where they are not native: Rabbits in Australia, the grey squirrel in the UK, and others, like rats in various parts of the world, especially islands where they wreak havoc on things like ground nesting birds.
    And there are problems with plants, too.


  4. raynayday says:

    Excellent work from the experts and a great story. Thanks Charles.


  5. I’ve seen some of them at the San Diego wildlife park. They are very cool and unique.


  6. Jennie says:

    Charles, are the ponies on Chincoteague Island off the Carolina coast not considered wild horses? Maybe because they are ponies and not horses? Such beautiful animals!


  7. Jaq says:

    Are these the horses the Mongol warriors rode into battle?

    We still have Dartmoor ponies in the wild, who look very similar.


  8. noelleg44 says:

    They are pretty magnificent. I do hope they make a strong comeback.


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