"The Return," watercolor sketch, 11x14" 2010

A couple of weekends ago we had some business in Minneapolis and decided to stay an extra day and make it an outing.  So we headed to one of my favorite places – the Minnesota Zoo!

Of course I’ve always been a horse nut.  Since I didn’t bring my paints on the trip, I was thankful to be able to snap a few photos of the Asian Wild Horses before my camera battery died.   (I’m also thankful that nobody seems to want to call them Przewalski’s horses anymore.  What a mouthful!)

I was intrigued to learn that Asian wild horses have a different number of chromosomes than domestic horses – 66 instead of 64.  I wonder if that has any connection to the fact that, unlike American mustangs, they have never been domesticated and are truly wild creatures?

Their primitive appearance provides a living link to  the prehistoric animals featured in the famous Lascaux cave paintings.  Painting them, I hoped to capture the spirit of the animal and its timeless connection to the natural world.

Asian wild horses are one of those wildlife success stories that lend hope for the future.  When I was a kid there were none left in the wild.  Today there’s a thriving herd of over 300 Asian wild horses roaming free on the steppes of Eurasia.

The title I chose for this sketch, “The Return,” pays tribute to this creature’s indomitable spirit, as well as the dedication and hard work provided by zoos around the world, without which the Asian Wild Horse would have disappeared forever.