Lutz Heck

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Heck cattle: an attempt from the 1920s to breed a look-alike aurochs from modern cattle

Ludwig Georg Heinrich Heck, called Lutz Heck (23 April 1892 in Berlin – 6 April 1983 in Wiesbaden) was a German zoologist, animal researcher, animal book author and director of the Berlin Zoological Garden.[1]

Together with his brother Heinz Heck, also a zoologist and director of the largest zoological garden in southern Germany, Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich, he started a selective breeding program, which attempted – based on the knowledge of animal genetics of the time – to "recreate" wild animal species that are today extinct, from various forms of the domestic animals whose ancestors they were (see "breeding back").[2] By their work they created breeds of cattle and horse - later named "Heck cattle" and "Heck horse" respectively, after their creators - that are today seen as not sufficiently similar to their ancestors to be called a successful resurrection, although Heinz and Lutz Heck believed they had "resurrected" the breeds by their efforts.[3][4]

During World War II, Heck took part in the pillaging of Warsaw Zoo, stealing the most valuable animals and taking them to German zoos.

The work of Lutz Heck features in a BBC Radio 4 documentary The Quest for the Aryan Cow, presented by the broadcaster and journalist Jon Ronson and produced by Beth O'Dea.[5] The documentary “Hitler's Jurassic Monsters” presented by the National Geographic Channel deals with his work in the Bialowieza Forest.[6]

Heck is played by Daniel Brühl in The Zookeeper's Wife.

Publications in English[edit]

  • Heck, Lutz (1954). Animals: My Adventure. London: Methuen.


  1. ^ Milmo, Cahal. "Descendants of Hitler's fantasy 'Aryan cows' found in Devon". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Morris, Steven (22 April 2009). "Nazi-bred super cows roam farm in Devon". The Guardian. London. 
  3. ^ Van Vuure (2005).
  4. ^ The Scotsman. Edinburgh  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Jon Ronson and the Quest for the Aryan Cow – BBC Radio 4, 10 February 2009 (producer Beth O'Dea)
  6. ^ Hitler's Jurassic Monsters


  • Van Vuure, Cis (2005). Retracing the Aurochs: History, Morphology and Ecology of an Extinct Wild Ox. Sofia, Bulgaria: Pensoft Publishers. ISBN 978-954-642-235-4. 

External links[edit]