Wild horses in Arizona were caught on video mourning the death of a pregnant mare and her unborn baby. The mother horse was in active labor when the baby horse became stuck and she could no longer progress. Bystanders with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group attempted to save both horses but their valiant efforts weren’t fast enough and both the mare and her baby passed away.
As the humans of the horse group moved away, the mare’s band of wild horses came up to pay their respects to her. Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) caught the touching moment on video as the lead stallion began to wail, signaling other bands of wild horses to also come and pay tribute. Several horses from different bands gathered in a line to honor the fallen mare.
This particular group of wild horses made national news in 2015 when forest service officials announced they would be removing them from state land. According to Arizona’s local CBS affiliate, officials claimed the animals were escaped livestock while conservationists argued the horses had been a staple of the territory for more than 400 years.
At that time it was estimated that there were up to 100 horses in the Salt River area of Arizona. Forest service officials stated that the wild horses had become a danger to the community, and they were worried that a child or pet could be injured in trying to pet them or that they could wander onto local roads causing accidents. Advocates touted the friendliness of the horses as part of their appeal.
“This is probably the most popular wild horse herd in the country,” Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group had stated in 2015. “People come from miles, nationally and internationally, to see this herd because they have learned to be peaceful and tolerant of people. We keep track of each and every horse. Each horse has a name.”
In fact, the fallen mother horse and her baby were even named by the advocates– Clydette, who was barely two, and Tootie.
Many feared that forest service officials would kill the Salt River horses as the means of removing them. According to the Washington Times, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill affording the horses protection from being slaughtered in May of 2016 with the hope that the Arizona Department of Agriculture could come to some understanding with the National Forest Service to keep the horses on the Salt River land.
The heartbreaking videos of the horses mourning, however, shows the cruelty of nature itself. Despite the fact that there was human intervention and a veterinarian attempted to get there in time to spare the mother’s life, both horses succumbed to the process of birth. While it is painful to watch the other horses in their sadness, the videos give a special insight into the expression of grief within the animal kingdom.
“It takes a most highly intelligent species to understand and actually mourn death. We have seen bands mourn their losses before, but for other bands to come and mourn her death also was simply awe inspiring,” the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group stated on their Facebook. “These animals have evolved to have amazing survival skills and very close and protective family bonds. In this natural behavior, lies true scientific value.”
And if you’re feeling sad for the loss of the mother and her baby, it should be known that SRWHMG has shared multiple photos of newborn horses in recent weeks showing that all outcomes aren’t as depressing as that of Clydette and Tootie.
[Featured Image by Trotsko Anna/Shutterstock]