In Cedar Park, Texas a company called Viagen Pets has successfully cloned its first endangered horse. The 4-year-old company mainly offers animal cloning services to pet owners who want clones of their cat or dog, but recently it’s put its research efforts towards endangered species.
.@nytimes points out: "The Przewalski’s horse is exceptional. It is the only horse species that has never been domesticated, & it also managed to very narrowly escape a brush with extinction."
— UNDP Climate (@UNDPClimate) October 2, 2020
A Przewalski’s horse, born on August 6, 2020, was cloned from the DNA of a male Przewalski’s horse preserved by the San Diego Zoo in 1980. According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, Przewalski’s horses are a critically endangered species found in Mongolia and are the last truly wild horse. They were once extinct in the wild, but intensive breeding programs have helped revive the species and reintroduce them into the grasslands of China and Mongolia.
Przewalski's horses is a rare and endangered horse native to the steppes of central Asia pic.twitter.com/z5BUCTF57r
— Andre Wisniewski (@AndreWisniewsk2) October 7, 2020
The DNA used to clone the horse was collected 40 years ago with the foresight of eventually using it to introduce genetic diversity into the species that could benefit its survival. The cloned Przewalski’s horse will eventually be transferred to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and integrated into a herd of other Przewalski’s horses for breeding and reviving the species.
The foal was named Kurt after Dr. Kurt Benirschke, the creator of the San Diego Zoo Global Frozen Zoo, which has been collecting and preserving the genetic material of endangered animals since 1975.
For more information on Przewalski’s horses, watch the video below.