Lee Richardson Zoo
Tuesday, March 31, ended unhappily for Lee Richardson Zoo staff. Yelena, an elderly Asian wild horse who had celebrated her 35th birthday four days earlier, was showing signs of neurological problems. After a veterinary assessment, the hard decision was made to euthanize her. The necropsy revealed bleeding in the brain. Yelena was the oldest Asian wild horse in North America. The median life expectancy for the species, also called Przewalski’s horse, is 17.9 years.
“She may have been old, but she kept up with the other two. Watching her trot across the yard always put a smile on my face,” said Animal Care Manager Pablo Holguin. “It always made me laugh when she would lay down for her afternoon nap. I’d call her name, and she’d flick her ears. Nothing or no one was going to interrupt her nap. Zoo staff will miss her.”
Yelena arrived at Lee Richardson Zoo on November 1, 2016 with Berezhnei, a male, now 23 years old, from Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, North Dakota. He still resides at the zoo, along with Ibaqa, a 12-year-old female.
This species has never been domesticated and was once extinct in the wild. Thanks to captive populations in Europe and the United States, the Asian wild horse is being reestablished in its native habitat in Mongolia and China.