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(Re)Introducing the Przewalski’s Horse

(Re)Introducing the Przewalski’s Horse

(p.77) Chapter Six (Re)Introducing the Przewalski’s Horse
The Ark and Beyond
Nigel Rothfels
University of Chicago Press

This chapter critiques general claims about zoological gardens serving as “arks” for species that have become, or are endangered from becoming, extinct in the wild by examining the case of the reintroduction of Przewalski’s horses into China and Mongolia. Although it is clear that the horses being reintroduced are descendants of wild-caught horses brought to Europe at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, the chapter argues that the differences between today’s horses and the horses of the past are far from trivial and that the “wild horses” being reintroduced today are more the results of western culture than careful conservation. In particular, the chapter examines the expectations of the leaders of the New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo) when it acquired and bred Przewalski’s horses, and also explores the historical importance of an error in the official studbook for the animal.

Keywords:   Przewalski’s Horse, William Temple Hornaday, Carl Hagenbeck, reintroduction, extinct in the wild, stud books, New York Zoological Park

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