RIP Antonio & Cecil: Tough week for animals in the wild

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Grulla Stallion #3907, a lifelong wild stallion, was captured in April and dead by August.
Grulla Stallion #3907, a lifelong wild stallion, was captured in April and dead by August.

Gabby DogGabby loves happy endings, so it’s hard for the Peke-a-Poo diva to share this unwelcome news about the Grulla Stallion 3907.

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is reporting the magnificent wild horse has died in a government corral, despite a five-month-long effort to rescue him.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management captured him earlier this year from the Sulphur Springs Herd Management Area in Utah and advertised him for auction.

A social media firestorm followed in reaction to the fact the horse was 26-years-old and the BLM typically did not auction senior horses. But the rescue – and the happy ending — was in the works.

The horse was headed for the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, as Gabby reported earlier, and was due to leave the BLM corrals at the end of August, according to Jacquelyn Hieber, who rescued him.

She renamed him Antonino and hoped to reunite him with 11 other members of his herd.

The AWHPC says the horse “perished on July 28, 2015 at 4 p.m. at the BLM’s Delta, Utah, corrals while BLM was gelding him, which is BLM’s standard practice for all stallions – including seniors – held in short- and long-term holding.”

According to the government, he died of a possible heart attack.  The cause was reaction to anesthesia. The vet did not perform the procedure.

Hieber said the BLM told her the horse “lay down and went to sleep” after the vet gave him the anesthesia. “He never woke up.”

She is asking well wishers to do three things in his memory: help save his two remaining family members;  “stand together to keep wild mustangs in the wild so we don’t not have to experience this tragedy again;” and honor the Grulla Stallion “by acting with dignity in our action and  words.”

Hieber worried her statement wasn’t “well-written,” but Gabby gives her an A-plus for finding words to live by in a difficult time.

“Run free, Antonino.”


It’s not been the year for happy endings, but all the sad news about Cecil, the lion, started The Gabby Dog thinking about a different kind of wildlife adventure vacation, which some good doctors have already taken.

It’s a volunteer gig to Sichuan province in China to help care for giant pandas living in the government’s refuges.

The program started in the 1980s. But The Gabby Dog heard about it recently from the internist who treats Gabby’s mother. The doctor and her hubby trekked off to Sichuan Province, cooked for the pandas, fed ‘em, cleaned cages and did all the grunt work.  Pandas, it turns out, eat a lot of bamboo.

Ok, she snapped some pictures, too, but I like this idea better than photo safaris like the ones my other doctor – the one that’s been trying to kill me – takes.

The volunteering cost her a few thousand dollars, since she paid her own air fare to China. Of course, more than a few travel agencies offer packages.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 6.59.01 AMPandas International based in Littleton, Colo., has a list of agencies and the  scoop on what to expect when you arrive.        According to the website, the only program open currently is the one at Dujiangyan. E-mail to contact them.

According to my doctor, the experience amounted to one of the best things she ever did. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone found a way to help the animals?

Have a tip or story idea? E-mail Margo Ann Sullivan at and
Follow @The_Gabby_Dog on Twitter.

Margo Ann Sullivan

Margo Ann Sullivan is a pet columnist who has written for ZooToo, and numerous publications in New York and in New England. She’s had pets all her life, starting with a rescue collie named Lollypop. The Gabby Dog column chases the news that helps pets and people. It also chronicles the adventures of Gabby, the peke-a-poo, and Asia, the tabby cat, and their many pals, hitting the high spots between Providence, RI, and Manchester, NH.

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About Carol Robidoux 5853 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!