Happy Birthday- Elizabeth Ann!! black-footed ferret clone
FORT COLLINS, Colorado-The birth of “Elizabeth Ann” on Dec 10, 2020, welcomes the first cloned ferret. She is created from the frozen cells of “Willa,” a black-footed ferret (BFF) who died in 1988, more than 30 years ago.
DNA from “Willa” was placed into a domestic ferret embryo in a New York laboratory, and then transferred to a domestic surrogate ferret mother at the National Black-Footed Ferret Center near Fort Collins, Colorado.
Elizabeth Ann is the first cloned BFF and first ever cloned endangered species.
The black footed ferret (putorius nigra) is the only wild ferret species native to North America. BFF's were considered extinct, until a Wyoming rancher's dog found a BFF in 1981.
At the time the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) captured the remaining population - only 18 ferrets. Only 7 of these ferrets passed on their genes in the captive endangered species breeding program. Elizabeth Ann adds genetic diversity, increasing that original gene pool by one.
The first mammal cloned was "Dolly" the sheep in 1996. She was cloned from the mammary gland of a 6-year-old Finn Dorset sheep and an egg cell taken from a Scottish Blackface sheep.
Elizabeth Ann heralds a new era for endangered species survival. The groundbreaking effort results from the partnership among the US FWS and scientists at Revive & Restore, ViaGen Pets & Equine, San Diego Zoo Global, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The research team is working to produce more BFF clones in the coming months as part of continuing research efforts.
Elizabeth Ann will be monitored very closely. Her offspring may not be released into the wild until at least 2026.