An endangered horse species, known as Przewalski’s horse, was born as a result of cloning in a first of its kind birth at the San Diego zoo in California, United States.
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- Last Updated: September 14, 2020, 8:22 PM IST
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Steven Spielberg shocked audiences with Dino-DNA cloning nearly two and a half decades ago. While the film still remains scientifically inaccurate, the basics of the plot have come to life.
A press release from the San Diego Zoo officials revealed a successful cloning performed at their facility. An endangered horse species, known as Przewalski’s horse, was born as a result of cloning in a first of its kind birth at the zoo.
Though the press release is dated September 4, the colt was born on August 6. He was cloned at the Texas Veterinary Facility and gestated inside a domestic surrogate mother. According to the National Zoo, Przewalski’s horse the last known wild horse. Originally found in Europe and Asia, these animals suffered greatly as a result of human growth and expanding habitats.
“This birth expands the opportunity for genetic rescue of endangered wild species,” said Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive & Restore. The organization works for wildlife conservation and promotes biotechnological interventions with the zoo with ViaGen Equine.
The cloned foal has been named Kurt in honour of one the founding members of Diego Frozen Zoo. According to the release, he will be moved to San Diego Zoo Safari Park and integrated into a real breeding herd. Hopefully, once he’s of age, he will be able to produce progenies of his own.
Kurt was cloned from a cell line stored in the Frozen Zoo since 1980. Though now extinct in the wild, these horses can still be found in zoos. This is one of the reasons that made this cloning possible.
Despite what the Scientists of Jurassic Park may have taught you, a key element to cloning is a living surrogate mother. Cloning simply means growing and fertilizing germinal cells in-vitro, and not producing a fully formed organism at the flick of a magic wand. While modern science has made extra-Vivo gestation via sheep-skin uteri possible, it’s not completely sustainable from the embryonic stage.
Simply put, a fertilized egg still needs a mother to grow inside. The foal, Kurt, is reported to be healthy and thriving as of now. This opens up new possibilities of cloning endangered animals in facilities to ensure their species survive. As of now, 41,415 species are fragile or endangered or fearing extinction, according to IUCN RED list.