In summer 2008, two Przewalski's horses, the world’s last remaining wild horse, were born at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center (CRC) in Front Royal, Virginia. You can find out how the foals are doing in our Przewalski's Horse Diary.
We have some very sad news. The male foal, Mason, died at CRC on Friday, Jan. 30 due to a fractured neck. We don’t yet know the cause of the injury. Staff who were watching him closely moments before his death noticed no unusual behavior that would have caused the injury.
Staff directed the colt into a chute system leading into a trailer that would transport him and a six-month-old filly to a new pasture on Friday afternoon. He walked onto the trailer—as he had many times before—without any signs of stress or injury. Following protocol, staff checked on the foals a few minutes after they entered the trailer. Staff found the colt unconscious, but still breathing. They quickly transported him to the Center’s veterinary hospital where veterinarians attempted to resuscitate him, but he died a short while later. A subsequent necropsy report showed that the colt had fractured the fourth cervical vertebra in his neck.
The filly, Anne, that was also being transported wasn’t injured and is in good health.
On June 29, 2008, CRC welcomed a baby onager, a type of Asiatic wild ass native to Iran.
The foal and his family got to meet a new intern this week. Her name is Kate, and she will be working with the onagers for the next five to six months. At first, the onager family is always shy and cautious around a new visitor. However, it took only a few days for the smart family to figure out that Kate was now the one with the treats, and they have started to take a real interest in her.
When they pee, Kate immediately gives them a reward and collects the urine from the ground with a syringe. As with past interns, Kate will be learning how to use these urine samples to measure hormones. She’s excited to learn new scientific techniques and get to know the onagers better too!