Horse Foal Dies at National Zoo Facility in Va.

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013  |  Updated 9:58 AM EDT
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National Zoo Animals Enjoying the Snow

Smithsonian Institution

Stock image of a young foal alongside a Przewalski's horse.

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The National Zoo says a Przewalski's horse foal has died at its Conservation Biology Institute.

Keepers found the nearly 4-month-old colt at the barn Wednesday at the Virginia facility where he lived with his mother, another female, and her filly. He was found alongside a fence that was bowed outward. Zoo officials say a preliminary necropsy shows a traumatic fracture of his neck.

The zoo says these horses were once extinct in the wild, but have been reintroduced in Mongolian preserves and recently reclassified from critically endangered to endangered.

The foal's death comes as the zoo makes changes in response to a review that raised concerns about deaths, injuries and escapes.

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National Zoo Staff Stretched Thin

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Last month, a biting incident involving a zebra and a keeper at the zoo led to the death of a young gazelle, and sent the zookeeper into surgery.

The 1-year-old Dama gazelle named Tony died after he ran into a barrier. The zoo says it appears he was spooked and fractured a vertebrae. Zoo officials say the keeper was bitten multiple times by a 10-year-old zebra named Gumu during an encounter in the animal's enclosure at 8:45 Monday morning.

Other recent deaths of zoo animals include a female red river hog earlier this month and a pregnant antelope that died in June.

Zoo Director Dennis Kelly says resources are stretched thin because of "budget uncertainty and budget cuts.'' 

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