For the eighth time! This time without meeting Zeta, though.


23. 06. 2018

For the eighth time, we’ve transported Przewalski's Horses from the Czech Republic to Mongolia using CASA army aircraft. It may seem routine, but actually we were all very nervous. Being successful seven times does not necessarily guarantee success for the eighth time. Even a small thing can tip the balance.

Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

Shortly before launch, I received a message that it had been raining at the target airport in Bulgan Sum and further rain was expected the following day. Strong rain or low-lying clouds would make landing on the unpaved area of ​​the Bulgan airport impossible, and we would have to fly to Khovd airport. That would significantly prolong the transport and make it more expensive at best.

Luck was on our side, though. As we were flying over Russia, the sky in Bulgan Sum cleared up and we landed exactly as planned. The heavy rain only caught us a few hours later when we were approaching Takhin Tal in our cars but that didn’t matter anymore. In the early evening, four mares ran out of the shipping boxes into a vast enclosure where will become accustomed to the Mongolian climate and semi-desert in the coming months.  They are at home, in the country where they belong.

Everything has worked out the way it should have even for the eighth time. However, one thing was different this time. We always used to set out from Takhin Tal to see Zeta before returning home. Sometimes, we found her, sometimes not, but we never missed the ritual. Zeta was a living symbol of the return of wild horses to Inner Asia. She was born as the first foal ever in our breeding and acclimatization station in Dolní Dobřejov in 1994 and she was transported to Western Mongolia as part of the international transports in 1998. She managed to survive all the pitfalls in Gobi Desert, she even made it through the extremely harsh winter of 2009-2010, raised many foals and for many years she was the oldest Przewalski's Horse there. She was. Unfortunately, she died shortly before our arrival this year - at the beginning of June. I am writing these lines and I feel sad. I will never see her again.

Life goes on, though. As soon as I have finished this column in the shade of my yurt, we are setting out to find another horse.  His name is Bars and he is Zeta's grandson. He is the ruler of the greatest harem in Gobi, containing ten mares. The story continues. Farewell, Zeta. Good luck, Bars!