An endangered black-footed ferret has been successfully cloned by scientists with the use of preserved cells from a wild animal that has been dead for a long time. This is a huge milestone for the conservation of black-footed ferrets. This species is the only native ferret of North America.
This species that was found over vast swathes of the American West dwindled as their primary prey; prairie dogs were eliminated by farmers. These endangered black-footed ferret was thought to be extinct in the 1970s. A ranch dog led a group of scientists to a colony of 18 on a property in Wyoming in 1981.
This new clone is a genetic copy gotten from a female known as Willa. Willa died during the 1980s in Wyoming and had no survivor. Her cells have been preserved at the Frozen Zoo, a program of San Diego Zoo Global.
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This program has gotten samples from about 1,100 endangered species worldwide. Researchers intend to introduce Elizabeth Ann’s offspring into the wild to inject much-needed genetic diversity into the population.
This is a big achievement that suggests that cloning is an effective way of conserving endangered species, according to Ryan Phelan, the executive director of Revive and Restore. The director of the zoo, Oliver Ryder, said that this also shows the benefits of preserving the cells of endangered species.
Black-footed ferrets are often threatened by the continued existential menace of sylvatic plague, a deadly bacterial infection spread by fleas. Researchers hope there could be resistance to this pathogen through increased genetic diversity. Phelan revealed that modification is also a future option.