This stocky, 1.2 m-tall (4 ft.) animal is the only surviving subspecies of horse that has never been domesticated. The horses became known to science in 1879 when a Polish naturalist named Przewalski (pronounced zeh-val-skee) "discovered" a wild herd. They once inhabited the vast grasslands of central Asia, but beginning in the early 1900s, hunting pressure, competition for grazing land and water, and interbreeding with domestic Mongol ponies contributed to their increasing scarcity.
Despite strict legal protection in Mongolia since 1926, the species became extinct in the wild in the 1960s. In 1992, a successful breeding program that relied on captive animals was started, and the species has been reintroduced into several Mongolian national parks. In 2005, the wild populations were estimated at about 300 animals.