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photo: Shaked Buchbout
Scientific Name: Equus ferus caballus
Global Conservation Status: Least Concern (LC) - domesticated
In Israel: -
At the Zoo: 3 individuals in the Children’s Zoo
In the Bible: "On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses..." (Zechariah 14:20)
Habitat and Distribution: horse domestication first occurred in the Central Asian steppes where locals adopted a nomadic lifestyle and they needed a large and powerful animal to help carry their possessions while wandering.
Body Structure: ponies are up to 1.47 cm tall. The height of Shetland ponies is about 95 cm. Weight varies between different breeds.
Diet: Vegetarian – grass and plants. At the Zoo they eat a variety of food.
Social Structure: wild horses live in herds.
Activity cycle: diurnal
Threats in the wild:
photo: zoo archive
Interesting to Note:
Horse domestication occurred approximately 4500-6000 years ago. The horse was the last wild animal to be domesticated. At that time sheep, goats and cattle had already been domesticated by man. Despite being a relatively late addition to common domestic animals, use of horses spread quickly and 3,000 years ago horses were already widely used throughout Asia, Europe and North Africa. Domestication destroyed whole populations of wild horses and today only one species of wild horse remains: the Przewalski’s horse which lives on the Mongolian steppes and has been saved from extinction in recent years by conservation efforts. The use of domesticated horses has expanded - they are no longer only used as beasts of burden but also provide milk, meat and skins and are of-course used for riding. The spread of domestication and the diverse specific requirements sought has resulted in artificial selective breeding and different breeds have been developed in different regions to meet various requirements. Horses are fast, strong, resistant to cold and heat and not too big.
There are several kinds of pony, the most famous being the Shetland pony. The friendly Shetland pony is one of the most common breeds of pony. Their average height is about 95 cm, but don’t let their size fool you. Shetland ponies are considered to be very powerful relative to their size. Shetland ponies originated on the Shetland Islands in the North Sea bred from Viking horses left there as they passed on their way to commit looting raids in Britain. Ponies on the Shetland Islands used to be used to carry peat used for heating houses, carrying seaweed as fertilizer from the beach to the fields. At the Zoo we have three ponies living in the Children’s Zoo: Gremlin, Willie, and Jasmine.