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The return of Mongolia's "wild" horses - Nigel Rothfels

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For thousands of years, native Takhi horses roamed the steppes of Central Asia. But by the late 1960s, their extinction seemed inevitable. To prevent this, scientists and zoos started a breeding program and soon began releasing new generations of Asia's ancient wild horse back into their native habitat. Nigel Rothfels explains the twists and turns of this complicated conservation effort.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Much of this story has to do with how animals have been thought about in different historical times and places. This is an area of increasing interest for historians who have begun asking about the presence and significance of animals in our pasts. To get a sense of this discussion, you might read Erica Fudge’s essay “The History of Animals” – a contribution to the online discussion forum, H-Animal

This TED-Ed lesson on the Takhi is adapted from a chapter in historian Nigel Rothfels’s book The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation, edited by Ben A. Minteer, Jane Maienschein, and James P. Collins. The book includes a wide selection of essays by scholars and zoo practitioners who are interested in the roles zoos can play in conservation efforts, and would be an excellent starting point for those who want to dig deeper into the history and future of conservation in zoos.

If you would like to learn more about the Takhi, or what is often called the Przewalski’s Horse, you might start with the Red List entry prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and you might also read this IUCN news item: “From Extinction to Free Ranging by Successful Reintroduction: 25th Anniversary of the Reintroduction of Przewalski’s Horse.” A fascinating insight into the history of scientific writing about the Takhi can be found in the digital resources of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. It can sometimes take a while for you to find exactly what you want there, but the Biodiversity Library, like all libraries, is a great place to browse.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Nigel Rothfels
  • Director Anna Benner
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Music Raphael Tschernuth
  • Sound Designer Raphael Tschernuth
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Senior Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Senior Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Soraya Field Fiorio
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace

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