© Museum national d'histoire naturelle / F-G Grandin

Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes, Przewalski's horse

The Przewalski's horse is not a direct ancestor of our domestic horses. Both lines diverged some 160,000 years ago. In fact, the Przewalski's horse karyotype is composed of 66 chromosomes, as opposed to the 64 in our domestic horses. However, the hybridisation of the two species is possible and feasible.

Smaller and more robust than our domestic horses, Przewalski's horse cannot be domesticated. Today, three Przewalski's horses live at the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and are part of the European programme for the species's conservation established in 1968. The reintroduction of Przewalski's horses into their natural habitat is necessary for the balance of biodiversity. As it is, the horse is one of the key links in the food chain of the desert steppe. A herbivore, it participates in a location's plant balance. In addition, it is itself a prey of predators such as wolves. Its disappearance in the local ecosystem therefore entails significant imbalances.