The horses we see around us today are descended from the wild horse. In some zoos you can see Przewalski horses, which are very similar to the modern horse’s wild ancestor. Around 5500 years ago people started to tame wild horses. At first they were mainly kept for their meat, but people then discovered that horses were also good draught animals. Later people started riding horses too. It was not long before the speed and impressive stature of the horse led to the animals being used in wars.



The domesticated sheep is descended from the wild sheep. A number of different types of this wild sheep live in an area that extends from the Middle East to Asia, as well as in the eastern parts of North America. Starting from the Middle East, domesticated sheep gradually spread out over large parts of the globe. In the Netherlands people started keeping sheep in around 5000 BC. These sheep may have looked something like our (horned) Drenthe heath sheep today.



Chickens originate from warm regions of East Asia and are descended from the red junglefowl. These animals have long been kept by humans for their meat and eggs, and also because they are attractive creatures. The Netherlands has a substantial number of old breeds, which appear on paintings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. 


When, in the 19th century, people wanted chickens to produce more eggs and meat, almost all of the old Dutch breeds were replaced with more productive foreign breeds and crossbreeds. These crossbreeds are well suited to factory farming.


The cows we see around us today are descended from the aurochs, a type of cattle that is now extinct. It was dark brown to black brown in colour and much larger than our cows. Around 9000 years ago people in the Middle East started domesticating aurochs, as they wanted a supply of meat to hand. They quickly discovered that cows are useful for other things too. For example, they were later also used as draught animals and their milk was used to make products such as cheese and butter.



Pigs belong to the genus Sus and are known to have lived in East Asia since the Miocene epoch (between 25 and 2 million years ago). There are many different types of wild pig and all domesticated pigs are descended from them.


It is thought that our museum goat is descended from a wild goat species: the Bezoar goat. Goats and sheep were the first ruminants to be domesticated by humans. This was around 10,000 years ago in the region we now know as Iran and Iraq.


Festivals in the Netherlands

This cheerful family presentation tells you all about the festivals that are celebrated in the Netherlands. There are quite a few! Some festivals date back centuries, while others are more recent, having been brought to the Netherlands from other countries by newcomers. All the festivals we celebrate are shown as balloons hanging from the ceiling. They include religious and other festivals that originate from all the religions and cultures present in the Netherlands.