The San Diego Zoo in the US has an unusual addition. A foal has appeared in the herd of Przewalski’s horses, which is a clone of an animal that died 20 years ago! This is the first successful horse cloning. Scientists have taken this risk in order to preserve the population of an endangered species.
Przewalski’s horses are listed in the Red Book and are practically not found in the wild at the moment. According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, this species is considered “wild”, and these animals are also distant relatives of modern domestic horses.
In a press release from the San Diego Zoo, experts clarify that, despite various programs to return the populations of this species to the wild (to Mongolia and China), animals still reproduce poorly in natural conditions. Successful cloning at a zoo could be an important step in the recovery of this species.
The cloned foal was named Kurt after Dr. Kurt Benirschke, who has been collecting and preserving genetic material from endangered animals since 1975. The animal was “recreated” from the frozen genes of a horse that died in 1998. “These were the cages of a 1975 UK stallion brought to the US in 1978. He lived until 1998, ”the press service of Revive & Restore said.
The company Revive & Restore, which preserves and restores the genetic data of endangered animals and which was involved in the cloning of Kurt, is leading several biotech projects. Now experts are trying to revive at least six endangered and extinct species, including the woolly mammoth, which became extinct about 4,000 years ago.