The year's first foal of the Corolla wild horses was born Sunday and will be named for a terminally ill visitor.
The foal will be called Renzi, after Melissa Renzi, who has been in hospice care for two years, Jo Langone, chief operating officer of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, said in a news release. Renzi was seen trotting with its mother along the beach and among the dunes this week.
The new foal is exciting to see after last year when six horses had to be transferred to a farm in Grandy and at least another four died, including a foal, said herd manager Meg Puckett.
The fund manages a program of darting some mares for birth control, shooting them with a kind of contraception. The herd typically produces about six foals annually, but managers hope to see a larger number this year to make up for those lost last year, Langone said.
The foal's gender is not yet known.
Melissa Renzi made her first visit to the Outer Banks last week for her birthday and to check off an item on her bucket list — seeing the Corolla wild horses, Langone said.
Melissa is "endlessly upbeat, strong, and kind, traits the banker horses share with her," Langone said.
The herd of about 100 individuals roams 7,500 acres north of the four-wheel drive beaches of Corolla. They are descended from Spanish mustangs who came here with explorers in the 1500s, according to DNA tests. The horses are among the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks.