Horse lovers and conservationists alike will be interested to learn that an experiment to reintroduce the endangered Przewalski horse into the wild is continuing.

In the northwestern corner of China known as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 18 of these rare horses are being released into a semi-wild site to learn how to adapt to the environment before they are officially set free.

This latest herd is the 17th such group of Przewalski’s horses to be released as part of a program in Xinjiang, which was established as a research center in 1982. When these latest horses are set free it will bring the total number of the herd to 292 horses.

Przewalski’s horses found their more familiar name in 1886, when Russian Przewalski Poliakov captured some of the horses while touring Mongolia. They are originally known as “takhi,” which translates into “spirit” in their native Mongolian. They once roamed freely throughout Europe and Asia, but conflicts with humans and livestock drove them east.

They are currently considered extinct in the wild. The remaining Przewalski’s horses exist only in zoos and specially-bred herds, as in the Xinjiang herd, and in similar breeding programs in Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

While these rare horses were long considered to be a direct ancestor to our domestic horses, DNA showed that they are in fact more of a distant cousin and split in terms of genealogy over 500,000 years ago.

According to the Smithsonian, Przewalski’s horses have 66 chromosomes, while our domestic horses have only 64. They can also breed with a domestic horse and these mixed breeds look identical to Przewalski’s horses, distinguishable only through genetic testing.

You can watch a video of the horses here  on the CGTN site, a Chinese news outlet.