Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) are celebrating the birth of a female Przewalski’s Horse—the first to be born via artificial insemination. The foal’s birth July 27 signals a huge breakthrough for the survival of this species.
SCBI Reproductive Physiologist Budhan Pukazhenthi, BVSc, MS, PhD, and the Przewalski’s Horse husbandry team spent seven years working closely with experts at The Wilds and Auburn University in Alabama to perfect the technique of assisted breeding. Both the filly and the first-time mother, Anne, are bonding and in good health.
“It seems reasonable to assume that reproduction for the Przewalski’s horse would be similar to domestic horses, but it simply isn’t the case,” said Pukazhenthi. “After all these years of persevering, I can honestly say I was elated to receive the call informing me that the foal had been born. I couldn’t wait to see her! This is a major accomplishment, and we hope our success will stimulate more interest in studying and conserving endangered equids around the world.”
Anne was born at SCBI and is the daughter of a mare imported from Europe and the most genetically valuable stallion in the United States. The filly’s father, Agi, also lives at SCBI. The Przewalski’s Horse is considered the last wild horse on the planet, although it is often mistaken for a breed of domestic horse, the Norwegian Fjord. Little is known about wild equids despite the extensive knowledge of domestic horses, Equus caballus.
The usefulness of artificial insemination is that it does not require both anima