Stallion from Shackleford Banks joins Corolla wild horses in hopes of ending birth defects


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COROLLA, North Carolina — The Corolla Wild Horse Fund has added a 4-year-old stallion from another herd in hopes of diversifying the herd and ending an increased number of birth defects.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported ( ) that the new horse, Gus, arrived in November from the Shackleford Banks, which is about 150 miles south of Corolla near Cape Lookout. His genetics could diversify the Corolla horses enough to stop the increased number of birth defects, said Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

"This is history-making," McCalpin said. "This is the first time in centuries that new DNA from another wild herd has been introduced."

Two of eight foals born two years ago had birth defects, McCalpin said. Last year, one of two foals was flawed.

Gus was named after genetics expert Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University, who determined that the Corolla herd needed a blood line from another group of wild horses to stay healthy. Small populations often interbreed, which causes birth defects. The herd of about 100 horses is down to one maternal line, McCalpin said.

"That's not a good place to be genetically," she said.

DNA tests indicate the Corolla wild horses descended from Spanish mustangs left there more than 400 years ago.

Information from: The Virginian-Pilot,

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