Research Article

The Breeding-Back of the Tarpan

Heinz Hecka1

a1 Director of the Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich Translation and introductory note by Winifred Felce


In Oryx, Vol. I, No. 3, the translation was published of an article by Heinz Heck entitled “The Breeding-back of the Aurochs”. In this Herr Heck described his experiments in resurrecting the aurochs, the wild ancestor of all present-day breeds of European cattle which became extinct over 300 years ago. The method used he calls “breeding-back” in which the aim is to direct the race back to a common ancestor. From skeletal remains and contemporary descriptions and paintings it was known what the aurochs looked like: a large neat, the bulls black with a broad yellowish-white stripe down the back and the cows red-brown; both sexes had white colouring round the muzzle and long, strong, curved, pale horns with black tips.