A group of Scientists from Colorado have cloned the first U.S. endangered species, a black-footed ferret duplicated from the genes of an animal that went extinct some 30 years ago. The furry creature named Elizabeth Ann was born on Dec. 10. Elizabeth Ann is currently staying at a Fish and Wildlife Service black-footed ferret breeding facility in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Captive breeding manager Robyn Bortner has stated: “This is mama. Normally if this was a black-footed ferret we could not do anything like we’re doing now, which is handling her. It’s very different for us to work with ferrets that don’t want to bite you.” The friendly, domestic ferret she’s holding is a surrogate mom to the first cloned endangered species native to North America, which stayed hidden in the nest box.
Elizabeth Ann will not be freed into the wild. She will live at the Colorado facility instead so that researchers can study her. Although Elizabeth Ann might look like all the other black-footed ferrets at the center, she is actually a pretty unique creature. She’s the clone of a ferret who went extinct in the 1980s.
The researchers have a dream is to get the black-footed ferret off the endangered species list. “Elizabeth Ann stands to bring in this huge boost of diversity for the species,” said Ben Novak, the nonprofit’s lead scientist. “Today every black-footed ferret is related to each other, somewhere between a sibling and a first cousin.”
The scientists have stated that, through cloning, they could conserve endangered and threatened species and that birth of Elizabeth Ann could help address genetic barriers faced by endangered animals. US Fish and Wildlife has released the video of the cloned mammal, sharing this scientific success with the rest of the world. Say hello to a cute little ferret!