Public Relations Manager
MINNESOTA ZOO HORSE BROTHERS RETURN AS PART OF STATE FAIR PARADE TRADITION
Horses return for 13th year; parades daily at 2 p.m.
Apple Valley, MINN – August 21, 2013 – The Minnesota Zoo’s recognizable horse brothers, “Prince” and “Duke,” will return to the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday, August 22 as part of its daily 2 p.m. parade. This will be their 13th year at the Fair.
The American Cream draft horses, easily recognized by their cream coats and powerful bodies, have been part of the Minnesota Zoo family since the Wells Fargo Family Farm opened in 2000. When at the Zoo, Duke, 21 and Prince, 20 can most commonly be seen being cared for in the Horse Barn, pulling the wagon, or grazing in the pasture.
American Cream draft horses, a critically-endangered breed, are the only breed of draft horse that originated in the United States. Although they are growing in number, there are currently fewer than 425 today. While once thought to be a color variation among draft horses, the American Cream was revealed to be a distinct draft horse breed in the 1990s, varying from pure white to a rich gold. They have white markings and white or flaxen manes and tails. These horses also have fringe-like leg hair, called “feather.” American Creams have amber or hazel eyes. In foals, the eyes are nearly white, becoming darker in the first year of life. As with other horses bred to pull heavy loads—American Creams are large, powerfully built animals. Male American Creams can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds; females are smaller, weighing about 1,600 pounds.
Nearly all American Cream draft horses are thought to be descended from one mare. This horse, named Old Granny, was bred in the early 1900s in Story County, Iowa. Old Granny’s origins are not known, but she was all draft horse and creamy white. After being bred to other draft horses, including Shires, Percherons, and Belgians, Old Granny’s cream-colored offspring were selected for further breeding. In 1944, the American Cream Horse Association of America was founded.
- Horses are usually measured in “hands:” one hand equals four inches. A horse’s height is measured from the ground to the withers, the point where the neck meets the back.
- Horsepower measures the power output of something, such as a car engine. Engineer Thomas Watt came up with the term in the late 1700's as a way of explaining how much power could be derived from a horse, compared to the typical output of new-fangled steam engines.
- American Cream draft horses are born with eyes that are practically white. Their eyes darken to an amber color during their first year of life.
- Because they are calm in crowds, American Cream draft horses are popular with law enforcement for mounted police patrols.
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).