Maja, a 13-year-old Przewalski’s horse was euthanized at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) August 13 for renal failure. Maja began exhibiting signs of distress only two days earlier, she stopped eating, had difficulty standing and walking and had blood in her urine. The decision to euthanize came after she did not respond to treatment and continued to decline rapidly.
Maja came to SCMI in 2007 from the Stuttgart Zoo in Germany to enhance the species gene-pool for the North American population. She gave birth to three foals, Anne born in 2008, Batu born in 2013 and Zygmund born this May.
Zygmund, a colt, had already begun to eat solid food when Maja died. His half-sister, Anne, will provide companionship until Zygmund is old enough to be introduced into the herd. Anne herself is an experienced mother, in 2013 she gave birth to the first Przewalski horse, Christine, born via artificial insemination.
Przewalski horses became extinct in the wild in 1969. All Przewalski’s alive today descend from 14 founding individuals. Approximately 500 horses have been reintroduced into wild in Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
Photography Courtesy Meghan Murphy, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute