Wildgehege Neandertal


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Aurochs cowThe aurochs

The aurochs (bos taurus primigenius) is the ancestor to modern cattle breeds. It used to live in wide parts of Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. It became extinct in the middle of the 17th century.
In the early 20th century the Heck brothers, who were directors of zoological gardens in Berlin and Munich, were convinced that the aurochs could be recreated by cross-breeding of modern cattle in whose genetic material were still traces of aurochs. In spite of choosing different ways of breeding, they came to a similar result, robust cattle which resembled the extinct aurochs in external appearance, except their height. Today there are about 2000 of these so-called "Heck cattle" all over Europe.

The herd

The Neandertal herd is one of the oldest in Germany. In the1980s the herd had its greatest population with over 20 grown up cows. Because of the damages to the pasture grounds caused by this high concentration of cattle, the quantity has been reduced since then. A part of the herd is settled in the nearby Nature Preservation Centre Bruchhausen. Today there are about 10 adult cows in the Ice Age Wild Park, which makes a number up to 30 animals including bull and calves.

Aurochs bull The cattle live outside all the year without having access to cowsheds. They find shelter from rain, sun, or snow beneath the trees of the wild park’s arboreous slopes. They can also hide from the looks of the wild park’s visitors because these areas cannot be looked into from the trails. This is also the reason why the cows often leave their calves behind when they set out for the morning feeding. Every day the aurochs are fed with natural feed such as oat, sugar beet pellets, and hay. Besides, they eat grass from their pasture grounds, leaves, and branches from bushes and small trees. As well as the wisents, they are especially fond of beech-nuts, acorns, and chestnuts. So in autumn many people collect these fruits and hand them over to the game keepers.

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