Enclosure status
Population in the wild
IUCN status
Scientific name
Equus ferus przewalskii
Central Asia and Eastern Europe
Grassland, Desert

The Przewalski's horse is the world's only truly wild horse. Once extinct in the wild, together with our partners we helped restore Przewalski’s horses back to the wild in Mongolia.

Przewalski's horse conservation 

The Przewalski's horse was extinct in the wild for over thirty years as hunting, livestock farming, and harsh winters caused their extinction. By working together with other conservation Zoo's, we were able to carefully build up their captive populations whilst maintaining genetic diversity, before their landmark reintroduction in the 1990's. There are now hundreds of wild Przewalski's horses living in the grasslands and deserts of Mongolia, Ukraine and China, and their population is slowly recovering. 

Przewalski's horses are adapted for life in the cold. In winter they develop thick coats in the winter and can wait out storms by turning against the wind and tucking in their tail to stay as warm as possible. They have two more chromosomes than a domestic horse, and this helped scientists identify them a completely wild horse species. Przewalski's horses generally live in a harem with one dominant male and several mares, or bachelor herds made up of stallions. 

Extinct in wild Père David's deer

Przewalski's horses at the Zoo

Our herd Przewalski's horses is crucial to recovery of this critically endangered species, and with their world population still so low, every new arrival matters. Our latest foal, named Sooton, was named by ZSL conservationists in Mongolia and her name means “sassy and vigilant” in Mongolian. Mum was at first naturally protective of her new youngster and kept her hidden away, out of view of zookeepers who were eager to get a proper look at the new arrival.  

Our team leader Mark Holden said about the arrival,  “The birth of a Przewalski’s foal is a real cause for celebration – they’re considered to be the last remaining truly wild horse in the world, and Whipsnade Zoo is proud to be part of their conservation success story. 

Conservation at the Zoo

  • La Palma pupfish in an aquarium at Whipsnade Zoo
    Breeding some of the rarest fish on earth

    Freshwater fish conservation

    Our aquarium is a hub for global conservation, as we recover some of the most endangered fish species in the world.

  • View of Chiltern Downs from Whipsnade Zoo
    Native wildlife at the Zoo

    Native wildlife conservation

    From moles to badgers, from grizzled skipper butterflies to cinnabar moths and slow worms, from grass ants to bumble bees, Whipsnade is a haven for biodiversity and we do everything we can to protect it.

  • Collection of heat sensing elephant images from Whipsnade Zoo which are used for elephant conservation
    Our elephant herds crucial role in conservation

    Elephant conservation at Whipsnade Zoo

    Over a two year period we took more than 30,000 thermal images of the elephants at Whipsnade Zoo for this ground-breaking conservation initiative to help people live alongside elephants.

  • Southern white rhino calf, Nandi, out in the paddock with mum Tuli
    Recovering wildlife

    Whipsnade Zoo conservation breeding

    We are breeding animals to keep their species healthy in zoos with a population that could eventually be released back into the wild.

  • Zoo conservation