Przewalski’s colt Basil arrives in zoo’s 50th anniversary year

Basil, who was born on May 28, with his mum.
Basil, who was born on May 28, with his mum. © Marwell Zoo

The birth of a rare Przewalski’s horse foal has been announced by Britain’s Marwell Zoo, based in Hampshire.

The colt was born to parents Nogger and Speranzer on May 28 and has been named Basil after the first male Przewalski’s horse ever to live at the zoo.

Basil senior was born in 1963 and joined Marwell in 1970 before the zoo opening in 1972. He later moved on to San Diego Zoo. The naming of the new foal is a nod to Marwell’s 50th anniversary, which is being celebrated this year.

Przewalski’s were extinct in the wild from 1969 until 2008, so the birth is exciting for the endangered species.

Keepers report the new youngster is staying close to its mother and the females of the herd are being protective. He will go on to be an important part of the European Ex-Situ Breeding Programme.

Przewalski’s foals weigh between 25 and 30kg at birth. They can stand and walk within an hour of being born, and within a few weeks, they are able to start to graze.

In the mid-18th century, wild Przewalski’s horses would have been found from the Russian Steppes east to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and northern China. This species is listed as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species with populations increasing thanks to zoo breeding programmes.

Marwell is also home to the endangered Somali wild ass and Hartmann’s mountain zebra, and Grevy’s zebra, the largest living wild equid and the most threatened of the three species of zebra.

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