Cape Lookout National Seashore announced an adorable surprise this week as officials work on recovery after Hurricane Dorian. The storm hit the barrier islands of North Carolina as a category 1 storm and shut down park facilities. The herd of wild horses on Shackleford Banks braved the storm in their natural habitat. They not only survived the severe weather, they added to their family. A new foal was born around the time the hurricane hit, and we have our first adorable picture of the precious survivor.
According to the Cape Lookout National Seashore Facebook page, officials can't be sure whether the new foal was born right before, during, or after the storm. The filly was spotted with her mother on Shackleford Banks, the southernmost barrier island on the national seashore. There are currently 118 wild horses living on the nine-mile stretch of land that is Shackleford Banks. With no human habitation on the island, the horses have free run of their coastal home.
The only way to see these wild mustangs in person is to take a personal boat or ferry to their shores.
Living wild and isolated on their island, the herd of Shackleford horses lives with only minimal human contact. The Foundation for Shackleford Horses monitors the herd and keeps track of the births and deaths. Occasionally, the foundation will select specific horses for adoption to ensure the herd doesn't grow too large. Their island home can only support up to 130 horses at a time, and population control is vital to their existence.
It's believed the horses are descendants of the Spanish mustangs brought to the Carolinas in the early 1500s.
Some of those original horses were turned loose during shipwrecks, and others were left behind after failed attempts at colonization. They've lived on the uninhabited island for hundreds of years and have faced the likes of Hurricane Dorian before. Their natural instincts protect them during severe weather, and their newest foal is a great example of the herd's resilience.
The only public photo of the filly so far was taken with a telephoto lens from a respectable distance. Park officials want to remind visitors to stay at least 50 feet away from all wild horses and to give even more room to the new mother and foal.
Featured image via Facebook/Cape Lookout National Seashore