Onagers are the rarest horse species in the world and one of the rarest animals that we have here at the zoo.

Related to the donkey, onagers belong to the equid family of hoofed animals, which also includes horses and zebras. They're critically endangered in the wild which is why we support their conservation efforts around the world to prevent them becoming extinct.

They were once found in great numbers across the deserts of Asia from Mongolia and China to India and Iran. But the species has suffered badly from hunting, habitat loss and competition from domestic horses.

Today their numbers are seriously decreasing with only about 600 left in just one or two specially protected areas.

So, we are dealing with some very rare, very special animals here. Famously, these animals can exist quite happily in desert environments, one of the toughest places to eke a living on the planet. They're also one of the fastest horses in the world, and can run at speeds of 70km/hour.

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Interesting facts

Where they live Mongolia, northern China, national parks of India and Iran; reintroduced in small numbers in Ukraine, Israel, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
Habitat Mountain and desert steppe, desert and semi-desert plains.
Size up to 1.5m shoulder height; up to 2.1m length
Weight Up to 290kg
Threats Habitat loss; competition for grazing due to farming developments; conflict with humans; poaching for meat
Scientific Name Equus hemionus onager