The New Home for Wild Horses

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  15. 06. 2024

We walked through the large acclimatization enclosure in Kazakhstan’s Golden Steppe and looked around in vain for the three Przewalski’s horses that we released here. Finally, we noticed a movement in the distance. But it was only a solitary saiga.

Zorro in the acclimatization enclosure in Alibi last Friday morning. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo Zorro in the acclimatization enclosure in Alibi last Friday morning. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

I was beginning to worry about what could have happened. David flew the drone to check the parts of the enclosure that were out of our sight. Again nothing. And then, to my delight, three horses’ heads emerged from the tall reeds at the watering hole. Zorro, Ypsilonka and “my” Zeta II. All three Przewalski’s horses looked at us, they came closer as if they wanted to get a better look at us, and measuredly ran away. After two days and three nights they were at home in the enclosure.

But the four “Berlin“ mares, which we had released to the second enclosure the previous evening, were still very restless and kept to the fence. We left them alone and went to load our luggage to move to Arkalyk and from there to return to Prague. However, three of our staff – including Ganbaatar, who has tremendous experience from Gobi – remained in the reintroduction centre together with our colleagues from Kazakhstan to monitor the acclimatization of the horses.

Despite the glory that accompanied the arrival of our first plane a few days ago, only the return to Arkalyk made us feel how local people appreciate our project. When I went out to have an espresso, guests in the coffee shop recognized me, started asking me questions and taking photos with me. When one of the soldiers went to have a haircut, he didn’t have to pay anything because he brought wild horses. And when my colleagues visited a local museum, they got free entry as well as the guide.

The return of the wild horses aroused enormous interest in Kazakhstan, and it gradually began to spill over the world. It is written about almost everywhere, which creates an interesting contrast to the lack of interest of part of the media in our country. On the other hand, the Instagram reel capturing releasing of Zeta II has already received 6 million of views.

It took us the whole of Sunday to return home by the military plane with two stopovers. Still on the way I received an unexpected message from the acclimatization centre in Alibi: “We went to see Zorro and the others in the afternoon,” the researches Martina and Anna wrote. “After barely a half-an-hour of recording we saw the first mating attempt with Zeta II. According to all indications she is already in heat the fifth day after arrival, and she is receptive to the stallion.”

„Berlínské“ klisny u napajedla. Snímek z fotopasti

“Berlin” mares at the watering hole. Photo from camera trap.