Scientists Successfully Clone A Ferret That Died In 1988, And This Might Be A Way Of Protecting Endangered Species


The chances are you haven’t seen a black-footed ferret, also known as prairie dog hunter, because the species were thought to be extinct. Only in 1981, seven of North America’s only ferret species were found on a Wyoming ranch. Seven years later, one of the ferrets called Willa had its cells frozen following its death, as the DNA technology was first developed.

Fast forward to today and Elizabeth Ann was born using the same frozen cells taken from Willa 33 years ago. This cute little ferret arrived via C-section on December 10, and became the first-ever cloned endangered US species.

This marks a groundbreaking step in recovery of endangered species. “The birth of Elizabeth Ann could help address genetic barriers faced by many imperiled wildlife,” stated US Fish And Wildlife on Twitter.

Elizabeth Ann will not be released into the wild but instead raised in the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado, so that researchers can continue to study her.

More info: Twitter | Facebook | FWS.Gov

Elizabeth Ann the black-footed ferret was cloned from the frozen cells of her ancestor Willa who died 33 years ago

Image credits: National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center

US Fish and Wildlife has announced the wholesome news on Twitter

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

The first-ever cloned endangered black-footed ferret Elizabeth Ann was brought to life by this domestic ferret mom

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

Elizabeth Ann’s story truly began in 1988, when the Wyoming department sent frozen cell samples from a black-footed ferret named Willa to San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo. The scientists who worked on Willa’s frozen cells found that they “possessed three times more unique variations than the living population.”

According to the official news release, such genetic variation meant that “if Elizabeth Ann successfully mates and reproduces, she could provide unique genetic diversity to the species.”

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

Image credits: Revive & Restore

In 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service began working with Revive & Restore in a bid to find ways to boost species restoration and conservation efforts with the help of biotechnologies. The cloning of Elizabeth Ann became the leading project of their joint collaboration.

Ryan Phelan, the Revive & Restore Executive Director, commented on the project: “We’ve come a long way since 2013 when we began the funding, permitting, design and development of this project with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Genomics revealed the genetic value that Willa could bring to her species.”

Elizabeth Ann’s successful genetic cloning gives hope to other endangered species around the world

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

The birth of Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned endangered species in the US, is a remarkable step in conservation. “It was a commitment to seeing this species survive that has led to the successful birth of Elizabeth Ann. To see her now thriving ushers in a new era for her species and for conservation-dependent species everywhere. She is a win for biodiversity and for genetic rescue.”

The cloned ferret arrived via C-section on December 10, making it a groundbreaking moment in the history of endangered species recovery

Image credits: Revive & Restore

Image credits: Revive & Restore

In 2018, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued the first-ever recovery permit for cloning research of an endangered species, allowing Revive & Restore to initiate genetic analyses and proof of concept trials.

ViaGen Pets & Equine successfully created embryos from the frozen cell line and implanted them into a domestic ferret surrogate. ViaGen Pets President Blake Russell called the project “a great privilege” since utilizing their “proven Somatic Cell Nuclear Technology” enabled the cloning of such an ecologically important species like black-footed ferrets.

But there are no plans to release this adorable furry ball into the wild

Image credits: USFWSMtnPrairie

Image credits: Inside Edition

According to the news release, Elizabeth Ann and her surrogate mother are kept separate from other breeding black-footed ferrets, and she will live her life at the NBFFCC as additional research is completed.

Meanwhile, the team of dedicated scientists is working on producing more black-footed ferret clones in the coming months.

If the project goes well, this would be a promising advancement in retrieving species that are on the brink of extinction

Image credits: NYTScience

And this is what people had to comment on it

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The post Scientists Successfully Clone A Ferret That Died In 1988, And This Might Be A Way Of Protecting Endangered Species first appeared on Bored Panda.


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