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An Endangered Horse Has Been Cloned For The First Time From A Cell Saved In 1980
By Thanussha Priyah, 22 Oct 2020
Image via Tanya Durrant / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
A baby horse named Kurt was born on 6 August 2020. What makes him special is the fact that he is the world’s first cloned version of the Przewalski’s horse, an endangered species.
The last Przewalski’s horse in the wild was spotted in 1969. Between 1899 to 1947, there were 12 horses that were placed in a captive breeding program, which has since produced around 2,000 horses today.
Back in 1980, scientists studied a horse called Kuporovic, who had significantly more genetic variation than his other relatives. The team took a sample from his cell and preserved it in the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo.
40 years later, the zoo teamed up with wildlife conservation group Revive & Restore and pet cloning company ViaGen Equine to form an embryo from Kuporovic’s genetic material.
The embryo was inserted into a domestic horse surrogate and born through a normal pregnancy. The new baby horse was then named after the Frozen Zoo founder Kurt Benirschke.
“This colt is expected to be one of the most genetically important individuals of his species,” Zoologist Bob Wiese, chief life sciences officer at San Diego Zoo Global, said. “We are hopeful that he will bring back genetic variation important for the future of the Przewalski’s horse population.”
Meet Kurt in the video below.
[via Mashable, cover image via Tanya Durrant / Flickr under CC BY-ND 2.0]
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