Beloved Minnesota Zoo draft horse put down after slipping on ice

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Prince, one of the Minnesota Zoo's two American Cream Draft horses, was put down Monday after he slipped on ice in his pasture and fractured his leg. (Photo credit: Minnesota Zoo) 

One of the two most recognizable horses at the Minnesota Zoo, Prince, was put down Monday after he slipped on ice in his pasture and fractured his leg. 

Prince and his fellow American Cream Draft Horse, Duke, had been part of the zoo's Wells Fargo Family Farm since it opened in 2000. For 17 years, the pair served as ambassadors for the zoo and made appearances at parades and the Minnesota State Fair. The zoo retired the Prince and Duke last year and replaced them with a Clydesdale team. 

The zoo said the Prince’s leg fracture was not repairable and he had to be euthanized. Prince was 27 years old.

"Our hearts are very sad with what happened to prince yesterday. an unfortunate incident," said Farm Assistant Curator Dawn Walker. "For anyone who owns horses, this kind of weather, we are very careful. We try to make sure we do all these things, and the unimaginable thing happens."

Though he wasn't named after the late Minnesota icon, Prince often wore a purple coat while grazing in the winter.

Zoo workers say the gentle giant will be greatly missed.

"He was loved by so many, and the outpouring of love and support from zoo visitors and the community and staff have been lovely. So everybody is thinking about him right now."

Duke still lives on the farm, and guests will be able to see him when the farm reopens in the spring. American Cream Draft horses are a critically endangered breed, according to the zoo's website.