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They manage to clone a black-footed ferret, an endangered species

After she was born, « Elizabeth Ann » was given to a female at the Huron Conservation Center in Colorado, who is raising her with her young normally.

| 02/20/2021 | ionicons-v5-c09: 33 | |

Miami Florida.- « Elizabeth ann« , a female of ferret black-legged (Mustela nigripes), is the first cloned specimen of a species native to North America in Danger of extinction and the hope of scientists and conservationists to recover the species.

Created from the frozen cells of « Willa, » a ferret black-legged savage who lived more than 30 years ago, and was born last December, « Elizabeth ann« was introduced this week by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Revive & Restore, ViaGen Pets & Equine, San Diego Zoo Global and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

All those entities came together to achieve « the first cloning of a native species in Danger of extinction in North America, which provides a promising tool for ongoing efforts to conserve the ferret black-legged, « said Noreen Walsh, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

After birth, « Elizabeth ann« was given to a female of the Ferret Conservation Center, in Colorado, which is raising it with its young with total normality, as can be seen in several videos posted on social networks.

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The Service came to think that black-footed ferrets were extinct until a Wyoming rancher discovered a small population on their land in 1981.

These ferrets were captured to start a captive breeding program in order to recover the species, which today is declared in Danger of extinction.

However, the low genetic diversity of today’s black-footed ferrets, since they all descend from seven individuals, makes recovery tasks difficult.

« Cloning can help address significant genetic diversity and disease resistance barriers to support habitat conservation and reestablishment of additional populations in the wild, » noted the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Without an adequate amount of genetic diversity, a species often becomes more susceptible to diseases and genetic abnormalities, as well as limited adaptability to conditions in the wild and a decreased fertility rate.

« Willa », the father and mother of Ann Elizabeth, was one of the last wild ferrets captured, has no living descendants, and is therefore not one of the seven founders.

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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department had the foresight to preserve her genes and sent tissue samples from Willa to the San Diego Zoo Global Frozen Zoo in 1988.

The Frozen Zoo, which has a cryogenic bank, established a cell culture of Willa and has managed the frozen cells ever since, making the existence of « Ann Elizabeth » possible.

In 2018, the Service issued the first recovery permit for the cloning research of a species in Danger of extinction, which allowed Revive & Restore to initiate genetic analyzes and proofs of concept.

From that, ViaGen Pets & Equine successfully created embryos from the frozen cell line and implanted them into a ferret domestic substitute.

A genomic study revealed that the « Willa » genome had three times more unique variations than the living population. Therefore, if « Elizabeth ann« It mates and reproduces successfully, it could provide a unique genetic diversity to the species.

« Maintaining and increasing wild populations and suitable habitat remains essential for the recovery of the ferret black-legged and will continue to be a priority for the Service, « Walsh continued.

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« The genetic cloning Success does not diminish the importance of addressing habitat-based threats to the species or the Service’s focus on addressing habitat conservation and management to recover black-footed ferrets, « he added. .