Wild Horses Return to the Steppes.

A Przewalski’s horse leaves its container after being released in Takhin Tal National Park, part of the Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in south-west Mongolia, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny.

A quarter-century-old project to repopulate the steppes of Mongolia with wild horses was kept alive as four animals made the long trip back to their ancestral home from Prague Zoo.

Driven to extinction in their homeland in the 1960s, the Przewalski’s horses survived in captivity before efforts began to re-introduce them to the arid desert and mountains along Mongolia’s border with China.

Zoos organized the first transport to Mongolia of the strong, stocky beasts in 1992.

For the past decade, Prague Zoo has been the only one continuing that tradition and it holds the studbook of a species whose ancestors – unlike other free-roaming horses such as the wild mustangs of the United States – were never domesticated.

The zoo completed its seventh transport last week, releasing four mares born in captivity in the Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark in the Gobi desert. They will spend the next year in an enclosed area to acclimatize before being freed.

“All the mares are looking very well, they are not hobbling, they are calm, eating hay and trying to test the taste of the new grass,” Prague Zoo veterinarian Roman Vodicka said after making observations a few days after the release.

Prague has released 27 horses in total and officials estimate around 190 are now back in the wild in the Gobi B park, where the most recent arrivals were sent.

What a wonderful project, one that fills my heart with happiness. There are many more photos at Reuters.


  1. coragyps says

    Damn crazy Russians! May the plague take half of them, and ague the other half!

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Great to see that the Mongolian wild horses are being reintroduced.

    Wikipedia has some info on Nikolay Przhevalsky. He was a from a family of Polonized Belarusian noblemen and the name is Polish, but even the Polish Wikipedia doesn’t use the Polish form of his first name (Mikołaj), so I’d guess he was a Russified descendant of Polonized Belarusians.

    The slavic consonants are difficult even for some neighbouring peoples. The old Russian ethnic slur for Finns and Estonians is Chukhna and it may come from the somewhat true stereotype that us and Estonians mostly use only one s-type sound in our language (s like in the English word “set”).

  3. says


    It’s a reason why I do think that zoos do and will play a crucial role in wildlife conservation.

    Yes, and this is a sterling example. If it weren’t for the zoo in this case, those beautiful horses would be long extinct by now, which would be a true pity, a tragedy of our short-sightedness.

  4. says

    This is one of those things that makes me happy too. I am not too great on patriotism, but I am sort of proud that Prague Zoo has saved this species and is trying to reintroduce it back into the wild.

    If you have trouble to pronounce Przewalski in its original Polish/Russian pronounciation, I would dare you to try and pronounce its Czech vesion -- Převalský. “Ř” is unique to Czech and I never heard a non-native to pronounce it correctly.

    Each language has its tongue-twisters.

  5. says


    Each language has its tongue-twisters.

    That’s very true, and no English speaker should ever have the nerve to demean another language, given all the idiocy tied up in English, one with extremely confusing rules which often contradict one another, and a basic snarl of fucked-uppedness.

  6. says

    Since property is theft, Ray Wylie Hubbard says:

    I’ll be ridin’ stolen horses, when you don’t see me no more.
    I’ll be ridin’ stolen horses, on some distant shore.

    Now reincarnation as I understand it, is birth, death, then rebirth.
    Unless we get enlightened, full-tilt enlightened, we come back down here on earth.
    Now I suppose that when we leave here, that we go to some celestial realm.
    And in one of these heavens, aw there might be horses, and if there is I’m gonna steal me a few of them.

    Oh I’ll be ridin’ stolen horses, when you don’t see me no more.
    Whoa I’ll be ridin’ stolen horses, on some distant shore.

  7. rq says


    Damn crazy Russians!

    First of all, it’s Polish -- while it uses the Latin alphabet, the sound combinations are often even more complicated (as per this wonderful film clip), so don’t blame the Russians for everything.
    Secondly, try teaching English. Oof.

    Ice Swimmer
    I would imagine if they’re a Polonized Belorussian family, it’s entirely possible that they wouldn’t use the Polish spelling for first names at all. And besides, there are many Nikolajs in Poland, too, not just Mikolajs. Personally, I always thought he was Czech, but that’s because of the Prague Zoo. :)


    re: the article
    When I was little and even more in love with horses, I wanted to find out where in the world wild horses still existed, and Przewalski’s came up, of course, and I was so sad to find out they were pretty much only alive in zoos at the time. So happy to see they’re going back to their roots, out to the steppe.

  8. lumipuna says

    “Ř” is unique to Czech and I never heard a non-native to pronounce it correctly.

    Great way czech out foreigners, then :)

  9. busterggi says

    Forest Park Zoo had some of these way back when I was little, they are beautiful tough animals.

  10. woodsong says

    I’ve seen these beasts at The Wilds in Ohio. They’re a branch of the Columbus Zoo, and well worth a visit.

    I’m glad to hear that the horses are being reintroduced. Positive news!

  11. kestrel says

    Oh, I so hope this program is successful. I know there are problems due to local people allowing their domestic horses to roam wild for part of the year, sometimes resulting in hybrids, which is not a help at all. I wish them every success.

    Reminds me of going to the Grand Canyon, and seeing condors. The Partner and I were just amazed, and taking photos etc. and the rest of the people there were looking at the canyon and never even noticed. All my pics are basically a huge blue sky with a tiny black speck in it, but I was thrilled that I could even take those crappy photos.

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