For Immediate Release
June 28, 2007
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NEW FOAL SUPPORTS SPECIES
June 28, 2007, Toronto:
ON BRINK OF EXTINCTION
The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a female Przewalski's horse foal on June 22, 2007. Przewalski's horses were once declared extinct in the wild, although re-introduction efforts have taken place. At present, the Zoo's herd consists of seven animals, with a total of 150 of these horses in captivity in North America.
"We're very excited by the birth of this foal, which is a great contribution to the conservation of this critically endangered species," comments Zoo Curator of Mammals, Maria Franke. "We have been working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Przewalski's horses to match up the best breeding pairs of these animals and to ensure new genetic input into the North American captive population. Our ultimate aim is to supply horses that could be reintroduced to Mongolia and China." Species Survival Plans are programs designed to conserve animals at risk for future generations. Already breeding programs in Asia have reintroduced Przewalski's horses into Mongolia, Kazakhstan and the Kalameili Reserve in Northern China.
To this end, Phoenix, a new breeding stallion, was brought to the Toronto Zoo from Parc Safari in Hemmingford, Quebec (on loan from the Calgary Zoo). As a result, 14 year old "Alexandra" became pregnant with her first foal, "Solstice", the first such birth at the Toronto Zoo in 15 years. Baby "Solstice" and Mom 'Alexandra' are doing just fine and have been integrated into the general herd.
Named after the Russian general who was the first to scientifically describe the species, Przewalski's horses originate in the steppes of Central Asia. They are the only true wild horse left in the world. Timid in temperament, these horses were driven to extinction when domestic herds took over their grazing areas and sources of water.
Varying in colour from cream to ochre brown, this species have short black manes and a somewhat mule-like appearance. After a gestation period of 11 to 12 months, a single foal is born. The baby is able to stand one hour after birth.
Visitors are invited to view this important and lively new addition to the collection in the Zoo's Eurasia section.