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Scientists Clone An Endangered Horse Using Frozen Cells Of A Stallion From 1980

Scientists Clone An Endangered Horse Using Frozen Cells Of A Stallion From 1980

Kurt is a rare Przewalski's horse who was created using cells taken from a stallion that has been frozen at the San Diego Zoo for 40 years.

When you see this little foal, who they call Kurt, playing gleefully, you might think he is just another baby horse. Kurt isn't afraid to kick or head-butt any intruder who gets in his way and knows to dash over to his mother for milk when he's hungry. However, there's something about this 2-month-old that makes him different from all the other baby horses of his kind. According to CBS, Kurt is actually a clone and it's quite the scientific breakthrough, although critics might question, in what direction exactly. 



 

 

Kurt is a rare and endangered Przewalski's horse who was created using cells taken from a stallion that has been frozen at the San Diego Zoo for 40 years. They used the cells and fused them with an egg from a domestic horse, and viola. As the egg's nucleus gets removed, it ensured that Kurt would be basically all Przewalski's horse. The cells were then implanted in the mare who would become his mom on August 6. According to the official results, Kurt is the world's first cloned Przewalski's horse. 



 

 

In recent times, scientists have been knee-deep into research and experimentation on cloning. So far, they have managed to clone nearly two dozen kinds of mammals, including dogs, cats, pigs, cows, and polo ponies. Only in 2018, researchers from China created monkeys for the first time using the same cloning methods that first produced Dolly the sheep. The zoo described Kurt's birth as a milestone in major efforts to restore the numbers of the horse. Kurt's species is also known as the Asiatic Wild Horse or Mongolian Wild Horse. His ancestors were the same breed that the legendary conqueror Genghis Khan and his retinue rode in their campaigns across Asia and Europe.



 

 

The Przewalski's horse isn't the most massive one you'd see at first glance. They can be small, stocky animals that only stand about 4 to 5 feet tall. However, they are believed to be endangered in the wild, and there are only about 2,000 of them in zoos and protected wildlife habitats. Due to their limited gene pool, they are at a reproductive disadvantage and are a threatened species. "This colt is expected to be one of the most genetically important individuals of his species," Bob Wiese, chief life sciences officer at San Diego Zoo Global, which operates the zoo, said in a statement. "We are hopeful that he will bring back genetic variation important for the future of the Przewalski's horse population."



 

 

Despite being just 2 months of age, Kurt's birth was already envisioned in 1980 when cells were taken from a 5-year-old stallion and put in deep freeze at San Diego's Frozen Zoo facility. The donor of the cells, or Kurt's father, passed away in 1998. The foal was named after Kurt Neischke, who had an important role in founding the Frozen Zoo and its extensive research program on cell cultures. "A central tenet of the Frozen Zoo, when it was established by Dr. Benirschke, was that it would be used for purposes not possible at the time," said Oliver Ryder, director of genetics at San Diego Zoo Global.



 

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