Elderly Przewalski’s Horse Dies at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Rose Marie, a 31-year-old Przewalski’s horse at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, was humanely euthanized July 6, due to her declining health and quality of life. She was one of the oldest Przewalski’s horses in the world. The median life expectancy for a Przewalski's horse is about 15 years in human care. A final pathology report will provide more information in the coming weeks.

Keepers and veterinarians worked extensively with Rose Marie to manage her health and provide her with the highest standard of care possible as she aged. Recently, routine activities and behaviors were becoming increasingly difficult for her, and her hoof and gait issues were becoming progressively worse. Due to Rose Marie’s poor long-term prognosis, keepers and veterinarians made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Rose Marie was born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, in 1986. She lived at SCBI until she moved to the Zoo in 2006. Rose Marie contributed to the survival of her species through her two offspring born in 1989 and 1991. They have also gone on to reproduce, making her a great-great-grandmother.

Przewalski’s horses are classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. New research suggests that they may have been domesticated, but they are still genetically distinct from modern domestic horses. Scientists at SCBI study Przewalski’s horse reproduction and ecology. They have pioneered new techniques for assisted reproduction in the species, including performing the first artificial insemination in the species, and they help reintroduce and track horses reintroduced to the wild.

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