The Transcaspian urial is a type of mouflon, or wild sheep. Mouflon were the wild ancestors of today’s domestic sheep, likely domesticated around 10,500 years ago.

What They Eat

As inhabitants of arid grasslands, Transcaspian urials graze on grass, shrubs, and occasionally grain.

Where They Live

Mouflon are found in Asia from Iraq to Kazakhstan and India. This particular subspecies is found in Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

What They Do

Males that are solitary most of the year will compete with each other during the breeding season by head butting and jumping―up to nine feet! The winner of these competitions will mate with 4 or 5 ewes.

How They’re Doing

Although domestic sheep thrive throughout the world today, the Transcaspian urial is considered vulnerable to extinction. The main reasons are poaching and competition for food with livestock.

Where in the World

Asia

Habitat

Arid Grasslands

Conservation Status

conservationStatus_VU

Animal Facts

Weight: 60–140 pounds
Height: 2½-3 feet at the shoulder
Length: 3½–5 feet

Taxonomic Category

Mammal, hoofed

Where at the Zoo

Tropics Trail

  • Both males and females grow spiral horns. The male’s horns are larger and can measure more than two and a half feet in length..

Asian wild horses have been found on the grasslands of central Asia for thousands of years. However, in the late 1960s the last Asian wild horse was seen in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The Asian wild horses went extinct in the wild because of hunting and competition for space with livestock and humans.

Despite going extinct in the wild, the species thrived in breeding programs in human care. Transfers of horses from the United States, England, and Germany helped the population grow. Starting in 1990, offspring of these horses were released back into the wild in Mongolia and China. As of 2014, there are nearly 500 Asian wild horses once again roaming the wild grasslands of Asia.

 

 

 

Things the Zoo’s Done/Doing

The Minnesota Zoo has exhibited Asian wild horses since opening in 1978. In 1991, the Minnesota Zoo sent a genetically valuable stallion to a breeding program in the Netherlands. His descendants are now successfully reproducing in the wild. Mares and stallions from other zoos are brought to the Minnesota Zoo for breeding. The Minnesota Zoo’s Director of Animal Collections coordinates breeding of this species through the Asian Wild Horse Species Survival Plan.

In the past, the Minnesota Zoo has supported reintroduction efforts in Asia through the Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Fund. Zoo scientists are currently working to save the species in Mongolia and China through active research under the  True Wild Horse Campaign.