US Successfully Clones Endangered Animal For First Time

(Screenshot: @sandiegozoo)

Taylor Giles Contributor
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Elizabeth Ann, the name given to the first cloned black-footed ferret, was born Dec. 10, according to a Thursday press release.

The baby ferret was created from the frozen cells of a black-footed ferret who died over 30 years ago, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (RELATED: Scientists’ Experiments Could Make Jurassic World A Reality)

“The Service sought the expertise of valued recovery partners to help us explore how we might overcome genetic limitations hampering recovery of the black-footed ferret, and we’re proud to make this announcement today,” said Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region Noreen Walsh.

Black-footed ferrets were once thought to be extinct but are currently listed as an endangered species. However, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department began a captive breeding program in 1981 after finding a small population of the ferrets on a Wyoming ranch.

All black-footed ferrets today are descendants of just seven ferrets, according to the press release. The ferret whose frozen cells were used in the cloning process has no living descendants. The donor ferret also possessed three times the number of unique gene variations than the living ferrets, according to the press release, making the cloned ferret more genetically diverse than other living black-footed ferrets.