Sunday, May 28, 2023

Scientists ‘Revive’ Endangered Ferret That Died in 1988 With Cloning Technology

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Scientists managed to clone the first specimen of an American endangered ferret species: A black-footed ferret. Notably, they did it by cloning the genes of a specimen who died over 30 years ago in 1988.

This ferret —called Elizabeth Ann, was born on December 10 but was only made public recently. And even though her adorable looks may trick you, she’s still quite wild. In fact, she could try and rip your finger off with a couple of bites.

For the time being, Elizabeth Ann will stay at a ferret-raising center in Fort Collins, Colorado. She’s a genetic copy of another specimen called Willa, which died in 1988 during the early stages of DNA technology. Now, its frozen remains made this exciting breakthrough possible.

Cloning May Help “Revive” Extinct And Endangered Species

ferret died 1988 brought back life 2

Cloning could be pretty useful to try and bring back endangered or extinct species. Thus far, this technology has shown to be promising when it comes to helping preserve endangered species, such as the Wild Mongolian horse cloned and born last summer in Texas.

“Eventually scientists may be able to modify those genes to help cloned animals survive,” Mead Gruver of the Associated Press said.

Black-foot ferrets are a part of the weasel family, and they’re pretty recognizable thanks to the dark marks around their eyes. Their charismatic and mostly nightly animals and feed exclusively on prairie dogs, which is why they live mostly near their burrows.

Before cloning, conservationists were doing great efforts to preserve this species. Biologists presumed they were extinct due to the prairie dog poisoning by farmers. Then, in 1981, a dog retrieved a dead specimen back home in Wyoming.

Now, scientists have gathered the remaining population to try and raise them in captivity. They’ve freed thousands of specimens in dozens of locations in the western USA, Canada, and Mexico over the past 3 decades. Hopefully, we’ll see many more of them for years to come.

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Ernesto Cova
Ernesto Cova
Ernesto is a psychologist with a major in Sports Psychology and a senior writer for multiple sites. He enjoys taking long rides on his bicycle and is a huge sports fan.