Two wild horse mares today left the large herbivore reserve to go to Germany

2020 - 04 - 18

Today, two wild horse mares from the large herbivore reserve in Milovice, not far from Prague, left to go to a German wildlife park (Tierpark) in Sababurg. For many years, the wildlife park has been doing the best known breeding of wild Exmoor horses in Germany. The animals will have a large, spacious pasture, which they will share with wisents. 

“We were using research and observation results from Sababurg to prepare our large-hoofed animals reserve. We also cite it in the studies we have published about wild horses and large herbivore grazing. We are very glad the new ones from our reserve are just headed to this known and prestigious breeding location,’’ stated Dalibor Dostal, Director of European Wildlife conservation organization. 

In its time Sababurg was the only facility in the world where wild horses were bred together with other large-hoofed animals. In 2015, first place in the world was then taken over by the Milovice reserve, which became the first one in the world where all three important Europe hoofed animals lived – wild horses, wisents, and back-bred aurochs. 

Today’s horse movement is important for increasing genetic diversity in Exmoor wild horse herds. “It is important that we have started transporting the new ones born in our breeding abroad. In previous years we founded a few new breeding sites for our grown young animals in the Czech Republic, but only joining our animals into foreign breeding will contribute to the necessary gene flow. With our animals now being part of foreign reproduction, the Czech population of Exmoor horses has definitively become part of the whole European population,’’ said Miloslav Jirku of the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences. 

‘‘Tierpark Sababurg is one of the oldest and biggest institutions in Germany and Europe. It was founded in 1571 by landgrave William IV as a hunting castle; since that time, the area has consisted of 132 hectares! The history is very interesting because, after founding the hunting castle, the area was the place of a famous German horse breed called ‘Beberbecker‘ – Beberbeck was one of the five main studs of the Prussians,’’ explains Sandy Walgenbach, Director of Tierpark Sababurg. 

After that the area was grazed by sheep and cows until the park reopened 1971 as a wildlife park. ‘‘Since then we have mainly presented European wild animals in our park; since 2006 we also have a farmyard with old, German breeds of cattle, chicken, pigs, etc. and we also have a children’s zoo with some exotic animals like penguins, meerkats, dwarf goats, and ring tailed lemurs,’’ added Sandy Walgenbach. 

Since 1971 the park has kept European Bison, starting with nine animals. Because the park is part of the European Bison Pedigree Book, calves born here have names which start with “Za” because the previous name of Sababurg was Zapfenburg.

In 1973 the Exmoor wild horses followed. The park started with two animals – Halla and Hannibal from Hanover. In 1975 four mares followed from Cumberland: Cardunneth, Breckney, Kellah, Molinia. The first foal was born 1975. ‘‘Since then they have lived together with the European bison in a 13 hectare area,“ points out Sandy Walgenbach. ‘‘But only since the 1990s has an English inspector come to Germany and so, sadly, only foals born after this were put in the English studbook. Foals before that and their descendants have an X Passport from the EPS; we call them ‘German Exmoors’. We keep Saba’s Hasselburg as the last ‘German Exmoor’ in our herd because she is the leading mare.’’

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