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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK
Wild horses return to Kazakhstan
The world's only truly wild horse, known as Przewalski's horse, is to be re-introduced into Kazakhstan after becoming extinct there 60 years ago.

Przewalski horses at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida (Credit: Lowry Park Zoo)
The horses can only be found in zoos
Munich Zoo, in Germany, which bred the animals in captivity, has transferred eight of them, including mares which are about to foal, to the Altyn-Emel national park in Kazakhstan.

The horses will be gradually released into the wild, after they have become accustomed to the vegetation and climate.

The Przewalski's survival chances are good. There are snow leopards there but they don't usually go for full grown horses
Beatrix Rau, Munich Zoo
Munich Zoo re-introduced 32 koulans, which are similar to donkeys, to the area 20 years ago, of which there are 500 inhabiting the park today.

"The Przewalski's survival chances are good. There are snow leopards there but they don't usually go for full grown horses," said Beatrix Rau, curator at Munich Zoo.

"The area is flat, so it is not easy to hunt them. These animals, albeit born in a zoo, will not let you approach them."

There are plans to re-introduce the Przewalski's horse into areas of China and Mongolia.

Taming wild horses

The animal takes its name from a Russian colonel who by the order of the Czar in the later part of the 19th Century went on an expedition in search of the species.

In 1881, he stated that wild horses did still exist, although when the animals were captured and fed on sheep's milk they died.

Several years later, foals were taken from the wild and bred in captivity on the milk of other horse species.

The Hagenbeck family brought Przewalski's horses to Germany at the beginning of the 20th Century where they have been bred in captivity and sent to other zoos.

It is thought they became extinct in the wild in 1940.

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