The First-Ever Cloned Black-Footed Ferret Could Save Its Species

Elizabeth Ann made history just over a year ago as the first-ever cloned black-footed ferret. She was created from the cells of another black-footed ferret that died 35 years ago, named Willa. She was born from a surrogate ferret and, just over a year later, has achieved sexual maturity, one of the first clones of an endangered species to do so. Now that Elizabeth Ann is of breeding age, conservation biologists hope to use her to help save the species from extinction. It will be the first time cloning has been successfully integrated into such an endeavor. Due to their small population size, the wild ferret colonies are currently suffering from inbreeding, decreasing their genetic diversity and reproductive fitness. Elizabeth Ann’s DNA contains multiple forms of genes found throughout the breeding program’s inbred ferrets. It is hoped that her children will help reinvigorate the genetic viability of black-footed ferrets. Currently, she resides at a conservation center near Fort Collins, Colorado, and scientists are seeking a compatible mate for her.

Keywords - ferret