Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Prague zoo to transfer further Przewalski horses to Mongolia

Prague, March 31 (CTK) - The Prague zoo plans to transfer another four Przewalski horses to Mongolia, their country of origin, in June and release them to the wild, the zoo director Miroslav Bobek told journalists Monday.

The zoo, which focuses on breeding the dramatically endangered Przewalski horse, has released a total of 12 of them in Mongolia since 2011.

The institutions assisting in the project are the Czech Environment Ministry and the military, which provides its transport planes.

Mongolian Environment Minister Sanjaasuren Oyun, appreciated the horse salvation at a joint press conference with Bobek in Prague.

The four horses to be flown to Mongolia in June have been chosen from a Czech centre to which they were brought from several European zoos.

The military plane with them will land directly in the Gobi Desert, outside regular airports, so that the horses need not undergo a many-hour journey to the acclimatisation enclosure.

"The transfer will cost between 1.2-1.4 million crowns," Bobek said.

The zoo is gathering the money in a public fund raising campaign, from sponsors and partly from its revenues from the sale of entrance tickets, he said.

The Prague zoo is one of the main organisers of the transfers of the Przewalski horse, which was killed out in the wild 40 years ago, back to its original homeland.

The transfers from Western Europe started in the 1990s and over a hundred horses have returned to Mongolia since.

At present, about 1900 Przewalski horses live all over the world, including some 300 heads in two national parks in Mongolia.

Bobek said the horses returned to the wild are doing well and they have reproduced.

He said the project includes support to the local Mongolian population such as the reconstruction of a hospital, creation of new jobs, removal of environmental burden, handling of wastes and securing of drinking water sources.

The Prague zoo started breeding the Przewalski horse in 1932. It has kept the international pedigree book of this species since 1959.

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