Przewalski’s Horses Return from Brink of Extinction

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) recently recommended that the World Conservation Union (IUNC) upgrade the status of the wild Asian Przewalski’s (pronounced zeh-val-skee) horses from “extinct” to “endangered” after their

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Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) recently recommended that the World Conservation Union (IUNC) upgrade the status of the wild Asian Przewalski’s (pronounced zeh-val-skee) horses from “extinct” to “endangered” after their successful reintroduction into the wild.


A group of 60 ZSL scientists recently evaluated the population of free-ranging Przewalski’s and found the hearty horses were able to sustain their numbers in the wild. In early December, they presented their data to the IUNC with the recommendation of taking the horses off the extinction list.


Przewalski’s horses once roamed wild over the vast grasslands of Central Asia. By 1945, only 31 Przewalski’s horses were alive in captivity throughout the world and none of the horses remained in the wild. Through successful breeding programs, the number climbed to more than 1,500 by the early 1990s. Scientist began reintroducing the captive-bred horses to their natural habitat in Mongolia.


The small (around 13 hands), stocky Przewalski’s horses are considered to be genetically different than domestic horses because they have two additional chromosomes. For this reason, scientists do not classify them as descendants of the domestic horse, but a true wild breed

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Written by:

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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