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Werribee Open Range Zoo

Baby boom a bonus in the fight against extinction

20 May 2019

Werribee Open Range Zoo is in the midst of a significant baby boom.

The zoo’s population of Przewalski’s Horse, once considered to be extinct in the wild, has grown dramatically after the births of three foals in the past 10 months.

The new addition to the family, a yet-to-be-named three-week-old female foal, is the latest milestone in Zoos Victoria’s fight against extinction.

Habitat conservation and breeding programs, such as the one at Werribee Zoo, has seen the numbers of Przewalski’s Horse increase to 300 in the wild and more than 1500 in national parks, sanctuaries and zoos across the world.

Video footage and photos show the newest member of the family running amok, suckling from her patient mother, before finally plonking down on the ground for a well-deserved nap.   

Werribee Open Range Zoo Savannah Coordinator Davin Kroeger said he was pleased with how well the newborn had been accepted by the herd.

“The youngest foal is living with a lot of sisters, brothers and aunties. They’re all very protective of her,” Mr Kroeger said. “Werribee Zoo’s herd are an insurance population in case something catastrophic happens to their cousins in the wild. The newest foal is probably not aware that she and her family serve a critical role in the survival of Przewalski’s Horse.”

In particular, Ronald, the father of the latest foal and several others in the group, has contributed greatly to the plight of the species, Mr Kroeger said.

“He’s done an amazing job. We’ll give him and a few other males a little break from the herd, which is also what would happen naturally in the wild.”

Visitors can see the Przewalski’s Horses while on the Zoo’s Safari Bus Tours, which are included in general entry.