Scientists Successfully Clone The First Endangered Animal Species With The Help Of A 33-Year-Old DNA

The US scientists achieved a great victory by being successful to clone the first US endangered species, the black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann. The gene duplication was done using an animal that died 30 years ago. The original name of the donner was Willa. The Fish Department and the Wyoming Game sent the tissues of Willa with the passage of it. Those tissues were sent to the “frozen zoo” run by San Diego Zoo Global that is responsible for the maintenance of cells from more than 1,100 species and subspecies worldwide.

However, this ferret Willa isn't one among the original seven ancestors in the world. It was believed that the ferrets had gone extinct forever even before those ferrets were rediscovered in 1981 on a ranch in the state of Wyoming.

Elizabeth Ann is the first-ever cloned member among the US endangered species. She's around 60 days by now.

At the first stages of DNA technology, Willa’s body was frozen. However, the importance of the technique has been realized and several endangered species including a Mongolian wild horse are expected to give rebirth via cloning.

“Biotechnology and genomic data can make a difference on the ground with conservation efforts,” says Ben Novak who's a leading scientist with Revive & Restore, a biotechnology-focused conservation nonprofit that coordinates ferret and horse cloning.

According to the scientists, this Willa’s genes had been fertilized into an embryo first. The fertilized genes have been carried by a regular domestic ferret afterwhile. The fellow black-footed ferret wasn't given the chance to carry the embryo due to the risk associated with pregnancy. All in all the scientists are more confident about bringing back other specimens into practice with the success of this procedure. They have intentions of helping the ones who need genetic modification or genetic patching for a successful cloning process.

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

However, the newly cloned Elizabeth Ann will not be released in the wild. Elizabeth will be treated under the care of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado.

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