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Minn. Zoo continues efforts to protect rare horses with birth of foals

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Two 2-week-old Asian wild horses, a rare breed that's returning from the brink of extinction, made their first appearances at the Minnesota Zoo Wednesday.

The zoo says the foals, weighing about 60 pounds at birth, can be found with their mothers on the Northern Trail.

The Star Tribune said the female born on July 17 was named Varushka and the male born on July 17 was named Otradnoye.

Also known as "takhi," Asian wild horses disappeared entirely from the wild in the 1960s. With more than 40 foals born there, the Minnesota Zoo has played a major role in efforts to bring back the population. Many of the animals found homes at other zoos, but one stallion went to a semi-preserve in the Netherlands to produce offspring for release in Mongolia, where 82 descendants still live at Hustai Nuruu National Park.

Thanks to protection programs, Asian wild horses have been recently upgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered by the International Union of Conservation and Nature.

As of 2011, more than 300 Asian wild horses again roam their native habitats in China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, according to the zoo.

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