Cyrus, a male onager at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Insitute in Front Royal, died yesterday March 14, 2014. He was eightyears old. After examination, it appears the onager was spooked by routine pasture maintenance which caused him to run into a fence and break his neck. Onagers may live to be 30 years old. Keepers described Cyrus as an especially skittish onager. He arrived at SCBI in 2008.
Native to Iran the Persian onager, a subspecies of Asiatic wild ass, is more closely related to the domestic donkey than to the domestic horse. Classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, an estimated 500 animals remain in the wild.