Horses that heal help kids cope with loss
Posted: Oct 27, 2012 7:35 PM EDT
By Jacqueline Quynh, Multimedia Journalist - email
As posted on KTIV.com
Back from the brink
The Tarpan may have been officially extinct by 1910, but the tarpan-like characteristics of some horses in their former home range had not escaped attention.
In the lead-up to World War 2, two people in particular took a special interest in the tarpan-like domestic ponies called Bilgoraj Konik, which were used by remote polish peasants.
The peasants where too poor to feed the horses through winter so would let them roam wild and recapture them for agricultural work the next spring.
Two men now tried to “re-breed” the Bilgoraj Konik – one Polish and one German.
The Pole was Tadeusz Vetulani, of Poznan University, who began selecting Koniks for a tarpan re-breeding project in the Bialowieza Forest.
Two of his Koniks, a male and female, had the tendency to turn whitish in winter, always retaining the dark points. The project was successful and another herd was established in the Popielno Forest. Attempts were made to regenerate the European bison, also, at this time.
The other person interested in re-breeding the tarpan was Lutz Heck, the director of Berlin Zoo and an ardent Nazi. He and his brother Heinz, a director of Munich Zoo, both started tarpan re-breeding projects using a variety of horses. The brothers, both interested in German forest and hunting culture, established independent breeding groups. Both claimed success in re-breeding tarpans.
Heck was to rise through the ranks of the Nazis and held an important position in the ministry responsible for nature and forests. When Germany overran Poland during World War 2, polish Koniks were taken back to Germany for a series of genetic experiments aimed at recreating a German Tarpan.
Lutz Heck personally commanded and supervised a Nazi team that stole a number of herds of the small primitive horses from the Bialowieza National Park for their genetic experiments. He developed his re-breeding experiments with the enthusiastic support of senior Nazis, chief amongst whom was the Reichmarshal, Herman Goering.