Born on Christmas Day, the unnamed female foal is the first of the critically endangered species to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 2014
The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) announced on Friday that a critically endangered Przewalksi’s horse foal was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
According to a release from the nonprofit, the colt is the first of its kind to be born at the Safari Park since 2014 — and one of the few born in North America in the past year. The unnamed female foal was born on Christmas Day, according to NBC 7.
“Every birth is a tremendous moment, so we are elated by this new foal,” Kristi Burtis, wildlife care director at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said. “We’ve had more than 157 Przewalski’s horses born at the Zoo and the Safari Park.”
Now considered to be a critically endangered species of wild horse, the Przewalski’s horse — sometimes called “the Last Wild Horse” — was previously declared extinct until 1996.
The species has survived for the last 40 years almost exclusively in zoos all over the world, with nearly all living horses related to the 12 Przewalski’s horses born in their native habitats. Scientists, though, urge that there needs to be more work done to ensure the future survival of the Przewalski’s horse, per the release.
“They are an important wild horse species, and this new foal, along with each individual that was born at our parks, bolsters their fragile population — and represents our deep commitment to conserving them for future generations,” Burtis said per the release.
The foal was born as part of a breeding recommendation through AZA’s Przewalski’s horse Species Survival Plan, which is a program supervised by conservationists all over the country that “ensures genetic diversity is represented among Przewalski’s horse populations,” the release states.
In 2020, the joint efforts of SDZWA’s Biodiversity Bank, the animal cloning company ViaGen Pets & Equine and nonprofit Revive & Restore resulted in the first successfully cloned Przewalski’s horse, according to the release.
Born to a surrogate domestic quarter female horse, Kurt is the clone of a male Przewalski’s horse whose cells were cryopreserved 43 years ago in the Frozen Zoo of SDZWA’s Biodiversity Bank.
“Kurt is significant to his species because he offers the hope of bringing back lost genetic diversity to the population,” Nadine Lamberski, SDZWA’s chief conservation and wildlife health officer said in the release. “It is imperative to do everything we can to save this genetic diversity before it disappears.”
Per the release, San Diego Zoo Safari Park-goers can pay the foal and the rest of her herd a visit at the Przewalski’s horse habitat, which is next door to the Central Asian savanna habitat where Kurt resides.