RANCHO SANTA FE — The miracle twins of the Helen Woodward Animal Center celebrated their second birthday March 31 with a group of adoring fans, a romp around their arena, a birthday cake and a musical birthday card.The twin foals, named Angel and Sunny, beat the stratospheric odds to survive and even thrive.
Christen Hanley, director of the equine hospital at the animal center, said they are extremely lucky because equine twins rarely survive.
“They have a 1 in 10,000 chance of being born alive and a 1 in 15,000 chance to survive for two weeks,” she said.
Hanley said when their mother, 9-year-old maiden Lena, went into labor, the twins were a surprise. Lena was rushed to the center and was cared for by Dr. Rodrigo Vazquez.
“We were with them 24-hours a day,” Hanley said. “We never left their side.”
“It was very, very touch-and-go and they were super, super delicate.”
Sunny was born at 45 pounds and Angel was 30 pounds — way under a normal horse birth weight of about 90 to 120 pounds. They had joint and tendon issues.
Although they went full term, they had premature birth problems.
“At six weeks it became very promising at that point,” Hanley said. “They got stronger and they got to exercise like normal babies.”
During the past two years, Angel and Sunny have been mascots at the center and took part in the education program and the Christmas program.
“People still come to visit them. They have quite a following,” Hanley said.
They gained worldwide attention through streaming video and even their own Facebook fan club called Foal Fanatics.
But on their second birthday, it was all about celebrating. They were turned out into an arena where they played for a while with a big, air-filled ball and chased each other around while guests oohed and ahhhed. A curious Sunny tried to take a bite out of a camera man’s tripod.
Laura Goodman, a volunteer at the animal center, brought a musical birthday card and the two petite horses were immediately drawn to it.
“We got one last year on their first birthday and they liked it, so we will do it every year,” she said.
Mother Lena reunited with her foals at their party. About 30 well-wishers showed up for the party.