The list of successfully cloned species was lengthened this week when Italy announced they had succeeded in cloning a horse.
Earlier this year the mule Idaho Gem was the first successful equine clone, but the Haflinger filly Prometea marks the first time a horse has been so reproduced. She is effectively a copy of her surrogate mother, the result of samplings from skin cells fused with an empty equine egg. As with Idaho Gem, over 300 attempts were made before a viable embryo was attained.
"Idaho Gem", born on May 4th, is the first successful clone from the horse family. The apparently healthy foal is also a mule, giving him the distinction as well of being the first ever clone of a hybrid.
The project to create a mule clone was begun by the University of Idaho in 1998, and has taken 307 attempts to get three full pregnancies. Of these, Idaho Gem is the first birth, with his identical brothers due to be born in June and August.
Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult, was euthanized after being diagnosed with a progressive lung disease, her creators said Friday. She was born in 1996 and revealed to the world in 1997; scientists studied her as she began to exhibit symptoms of aging as though she were much older than she was, and she began to exhibit signs of arthritis before her sixth birthday. She was six and a half years old when she died, and is survived by her five children.
More information can be found at the Washington Post.
Just in time for Easter, scientists have managed to clone rabbits.
This of course begs the question, "Sure you can clone rabbits, but why would you want to?"
Apparently, to milk them.
We've had a couple of news items before about things like a company producing an allergen-free cat, and more recently about the first kitten to be produced by cloning. But if you're interested in more on the subject, US News & World Report made it the cover story of their current issue.
This article from CNN documents the birth of the first cloned cat, adding that species to the list of animals that have previously been cloned successfully, which includes sheep, mice, and cattle.
It mentions the possibility of pet owners someday being able to clone beloved pets. If you found the pet with the perfect personality, would you want to produce a younger genetic twin of it every few years?
BBC News online reports the existence of a six-month-old lamb cloned from a dead member of an endangered species of wild sheep. The mouflon sheep is native to Sadinia, Corsica and Cyprus. The surrogate mother was a domesticated ewe of a related species. Click on the link to read the full story. There's a picture of the cute little lamb there, too.
This seems to be the month for weird animal stories. ABC News posted a story about a dairy in Wisconsin with 21 cloned cows. The headline and opening paragraphs make it sound as if the company is going to start shipping the dairy products out any day now. Scroll down and you'll see that all the company has done is commission some studies to determine whether there is a difference between the milk from the cloned cows and that from cows made the old-fashioned way.