First Successful Reverse Vasectomy On Endangered Species Performed At The National Zoo

Veterinarians at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo performed the first successful reverse vasectomy on a Przewalski’s horse (E. ferus przewalskii; E. caballus przewalskii—classification debated), pronounced zshah-VAL-skeez. Przewalksi’s horses are a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970.

Currently, there are approximately 1500 of these animals maintained at zoological institutions throughout the world and in several small reintroduced populations in Asia. This is the first procedure of its kind to be performed on an endangered equid species.

The genes of Minnesota—the horse who underwent the surgery—are extremely valuable to the captive population of the species, which scientists manage through carefully planned pairings to ensure the most genetically diverse population possible. The horse was vasectomized in 1999 at a previous institution so that he could be kept with female horses without reproducing. He came to the National Zoo in 2006.

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