Rare Przewalski’s foal named Basil born at zoo

The male foal was born at Marwell Zoo on May 28.

Rare Przewalski’s foal Basil
Rare Przewalski’s foal Basil

A zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare Przewalski’s foal which previously went extinct in the wild for nearly 40 years.

The male foal was born to parents Nogger and Speranzer at Marwell Zoo near Winchester, Hampshire, on May 28.

It 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 prior to the zoo opening in 1972, before moving on to San Diego Zoo.

The naming of the new foal is a nod to Marwell’s 50th anniversary, which the zoo is celebrating this year.

A zoo spokeswoman said: “Keepers report the new youngster is staying close to its mother and the females of the herd are being protective.

“The male foal 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.

Przewalski horses are 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.

In the mid 18th century wild Przewalski’s horses would have been found from the Russian Steppes east to Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northern China.

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