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Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii)

History of Managed Care

  • Animal collectors Baron Friedrich von Falz-Fein, of Askaniya Nova, and first Duke of Bedford, Carl Hagenbeck captured the newly discovered horses for their collections.
  • 53 Mongolian wild horses brought to Europe between 1899 and 1902.
  • Takhis purchased by Baron Falz-Fein produced 37 offspring.
    • A few were given to western zoos
    • Vast majority remained at Askanya Nova, where they all died during World War II.
  • Only 26 animals survived in zoos, and of these only 11 were reproductive.
    • A 12th founder was imported from the wild in 1947.
  • Creation of first studbook by Dr. Erna Mohr in 1957 based on her knowledge of animals in Berlin, Hamburg and Halle
    • Studbook published annually after 1958 by Jiri Volf of Prague Zoo.
  • 228 animals in managed care between 1899 and 1958
  • Breeding programs in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including Chinese and Mongolian breeding and reintroduction programs.
  • More than 130 foals born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1974 (ZIMS 2020)

Husbandry at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

(Amanda Lussier, personal communication, 2020)


  • Hardy animals
    • Do well in very cold climates
  • Still very wild compared to domestic horses (even in managed care)
  • Important to keep hooves and body weight healthy


  • Large area for roaming/herd movements
  • Structures for shade and protection against inclement weather
    • Trees
    • Covered feeders
      • Protect hay from rain
  • Grasses for grazing and to prevent erosion on slopes


  • Bermuda hay
    • Other types of hay for enrichment/play
  • Grasses
  • Browse, such as acacia, in smaller amounts
  • Carrots as treats
    • Don’t like apples
  • Other treats offered during training

Social interactions

  • Very social
    • Complex, dynamic social hierarchy
  • Engage in mutual grooming
  • Live in herds comparable in size to wild herds


  • Closely monitored to increase genetic diversity in managed care populations

Enrichment and training

  • Environmental enrichment
    • Water, sprinklers, and ice
      • Kick ice cubes
    • Soil for rolling and play
    • Grass for grazing
  • Tactile training
    • Brushes and back scratchers used to acclimate horses to human touch
      • Important for hood trimming, health checks, and providing medical care

Cool Enrichment

Przewalski's horse at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A Przewalski's horse enjoys ice on a hot day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Native to colder regions of Asia, Przewalski's horses enjoy standing in sprinkler sprays and playing with ice.

Image credit: Photo by Amanda Lussier. © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

A Foal Named Kurt

Kurt, the world's first clone Przewalski's horse

Kurt, the world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse.

The foal, born to a domestic surrogate mother, is a clone of a male Przewalski’s horse whose DNA was cryopreserved 40 years ago at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Frozen Zoo®.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Boyd & Houpt (1994)
Robert (2005)
Wakefield et al. (2006)

SDZWA Library Links