First Przewalski's Horse Born By Artificial Insemination

Image Credit: Dolores Reed

June 17, 2014

The little filly born from AI at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Front Royal this summer is more than nearly six months old! She turned six months old on January 27.

Here’s an update by Dolores Reed, one of the little horse’s keepers:

The filly is doing great. She is a little more standoffish than she was a few months ago, but still very willing to come to me for attention if I am patient and wait for her curiosity to get the best of her. Right now she seems to take after her mother Anne. She is still precocious, but a little more reserved than when she was very young. She does still like to face her hindquarters towards me and back into me to get me to scratch her rump, a common behavior among domestic foals, too.

We haven’t been able to train her much lately. She does get worked daily in her herd; we work on going out to and coming in off pasture and entering the barn, etc. Today was the second time she went through the chute system to get weighed. She weighs 295 pounds! Her last weight was 135 pounds on September 15. She has more than doubled her weight in four months! Adult mares weigh between 550 pounds and 800 pounds. Anne weighs 585 pounds, so the filly will likely stay on the smaller side; probably around 600 to 650 pounds as an adult. The filly is still nursing

When we train her, I just generally touch and handle her. Everything is on her terms. If she is nervous, I settle for her just being willing to be close to me. If she is very comfortable, I can go as far as working on asking her to allow me to touch her. When she does well, she gets apple biscuits (her favorite food), verbal praise, and/or tactile rewards (like a wither, belly, or backside rub).

The weather this January has been very cold, but Przewalski’s horses are built for the cold! They show no ill effects from the coldest weather Virginia can throw at them. We make sure they have anything they need, but it is not unusual to find them standing outside facing their hindquarters into the coldest wind. Recent pictures of the filly in her winter coat attest to her ability to handle the cold.

Two weeks ago the filly’s grandmother Maja and the her yearling half-brother Batu were introduced to Anne and the filly to give the filly a herdmate closer to her own age. There are no plans to separate Anne and the filly anytime soon. Mothers and daughters normally stay together at least two years. After that, we would only separate them if there are recommendations to breed Anne. SCBI participates in AZA’s Przewalski’s horse Species Survival Plan. The Species Survival Plan, along with research and management teams here at SCBI, will determine if she leaves SCBI. I do not foresee her going anywhere for quite a while. She will join the main herd once she is at least a year old. Right now she is in a nursery herd, so to speak.

In the next couple of months, she should continue to put on weight. She’ll begin to shed her thick fluffy winter coat beginning in early March. She’ll show more willingness to spend more and more time away from mom.