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Aw-foal-ly cute: Wildlife Park welcomes endangered Przewalski foal

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park are hoping to stir-up some excitement after introducing their first new-born Przewalski foal in five years.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The foal was born to 12-year-old mare Ieda and six-year-old stallion Hero at the park in Kingussie on September 2 and is doing well. Hero arrived at the park in August last year.

Douglas Richardson, head of Living Collections for the Highland Wildlife Park, said: "As soon as we introduced Hero our stallion to the mares last September, he immediately started courting one then the other, and as the gestation period is 11.5-12 months, this latest foal has arrived right on schedule."

The arrival of the foal is a contribution to Przewalski's horse conservation. The horses are currently listed as endangered and were previously labelled as extinct in the wild after the last specimen was seen in 1968.

However, a small captive bred population was reintroduced in Hustai National Park in Mongolia in the 1990s and there are now around 1,500 horses in captive breeding programmes throughout the world. A further 250 or so can also been found in the wild.

Richardson added: "Przewalski's horses are one of the best examples of the positive conservation role that good zoos can play. Had it not been for the cooperatively managed captive population, when the species became extinct in the wild in the late 1960s there would have been no reintroduction option that has allowed us to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat."

The horses are named after the Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski who discovered them in the 1870s and are easily identified by their stark golden colouring and upright black manes.

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