The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's 32-year-old female Przewalski's (Shah-VAL-skee) horse, Misha, was humanely euthanized March 12. Misha was one of three horses to arrive at SCBI in Front Royal, Va. in 1984 and the oldest Przewalski's horse in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Program. As the most dominant mare in her herd group, she was pivotal in establishing the SCBI research program. One focus of the Przewalski's horse research program is perfecting assisted breeding techniques. In July 2013, the first Przewalski's horse birth via artificial insemination occurred at SCBI to a mare named Anne.
The Przewalski's horse is a species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1969. Today, approximately 1,500 Przewalski's horses reside at zoological institutions worldwide, carrying genes from only 14 original animals. Hunting, loss of habitat and loss of water sources threaten horses that have been reintroduced to their native habitats. Committed to preserving this species and equid research in general, SCBI works to maintain breeding populations that serve as a source of animals for reintroduction.