A cause has been discovered in the mysterious death of a weeks-old wild horse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The colt, named Charlie, was the first born of the season and “showed no sign of illness, struggle, or distress” prior to being found dead April 14, the nonprofit Corolla Wild Horse Fund reports.
Charlie was just three weeks old at the time.
“It was determined that Charlie died from bacterial septicemia,” the fund posted May 25.
“This happens when bacteria enters the body through the umbilicus. There were no birth defects or congenital issues, and no sign that he had been fed or had eaten anything that caused an obstruction or illness.”
Charlie’s final moments were recorded by a security camera at the Carova fire station, which made the case all the more mysterious.
He was seen walking with both of his parents around 4:13 p.m. on April 14 and showed no signs of illness, the fund said. “At 4:19 he laid down, and by 4:30 he had passed away,” the fund reports.
The cause of death was discovered through a necropsy, and the results are a reminder of the how harsh life can be on the Outer Banks, the fund said.
Historians say the wild mustangs descended from horses brought to the continent by early Spanish explorers. Some were abandoned, some escaped and others swam ashore when ships ran aground.
They have survived for centuries by adapting to life on the constantly shifting islands, drinking water from natural springs and eating a specialized diet of “sea oats, coastal grasses, acorns, persimmons, and other area vegetation,” according to Outerbanks.com. (Traditional foods, such as carrots and apples are known to choke the horses.)
“Charlie’s death reminds us that these horses face so many challenges to their survival that we simply cannot control, and what a miracle it is that foals are born every year who thrive and grow into healthy adults,” the fund said in its post.