Hampshire zoo celebrates birth of rare foal

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Basil the foalImage source, Andy Street
Image caption,
This photo of Basil the Przewalski foal was taken on his birthday - the horses were extinct in the wild from 1969 until 2008

The birth in a zoo of a rare breed of horse - extinct in the wild between 1969 and 2008 - is being celebrated.

Hampshire's Marwell Zoo said the Przewalski foal was born to parents Nogger and Speranzer.

It has been named Basil after the first male Przewalski horse to live at the zoo, in the 1970s.

The horses remain listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Keepers say the youngster - born at the end of May - was staying close to its mother and that females of the herd were being protective.

Image source, Marwell Zoo
Image caption,
Przewalski horses got their name from a Russian army officer and explorer who first spotted them in the 19th Century

Basil senior was born in 1963 and joined Marwell in 1970 prior to it opening in 1972. He later moved to San Diego.

In its 50-year history, Marwell said it had welcomed 163 foals although not all had survived.

The zoo believes there are now 178 mature Przewalski's horses living in the wild.

The new male foal will go on to be "an important part of the European Ex-Situ Breeding Programme", it added.

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

They were named after a Russian officer and explorer who spotted them in around 1880.

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