As part of a state-sponsored institution, the Polish Academy of Sciences deals with the protection and breeding of horses living in the wild in forests, for example, the Polish Konik breed, also known as Polish primitive horses or simply Koniks. It is a Polish breed of pony taken care of by a special programme that preserves the breed without unnecessary human intervention. In Popielno, the Polish Academy of Sciences Animal Husbandry Research Station looks after a large herd of Koniks (approx. 150) and offers guided tours of the area.
The Polish Konik breed is still treated as endangered, as the number of broodmares does not exceed 5,000 in the European Union. In Poland, thanks to persistent breeding work in state and private centers, the population of Polish Koniks is systematically growing. In order to preserve the breed, its original features inherited from tarpans (genuine wild horses), the “Polish Konik Conservative Breeding Program” is implemented.
The Polish Academy of Sciences facility in Popielno was established in the 1950s. The primary objective was to enrich and save natural resources. Popielno, due to its location and natural values, proved to be the right place for the implementation of this program. It is situated in the center of Pisz Forest, on a peninsula surrounded by four lakes – Bełdany, Mikołajskie, Śniardwy and Wartołty.
The research station in Popielno is also known for breeding not only Koniks but also beavers and local cattle breeds. The facility was incorporated into the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn. The acreage of the station in Popielno is about 800ha of agricultural land and it is a home for 40 deer animals species: red deer, roe deer, and about 150 Polish Koniks (in the stable and in the wild in Popielno reserve forest).
Moreover, the station also has about 180 cattle of red and black and white breeds. The beaver farm, functioning since the 1950s, is still there, although the reproduction of these animals is limited. Popielno is also home to Zubron Brutus, which is the result of a cross between a buffalo, bison and cow. As a sterile animal it has a lifelong resident status there.
The Polish Academy of Sciences Animal Husbandry Research Station in Popielno invites for “the Weekend with Polish Konik” on August 19-20, 2022. There will be a field riding test and a sled performance test for the ponies, and in the afternoon the young horses will be entered in the Stud Book.