The San Diego Zoo has announced the birth of the critically endangered Przewalski’s horse, which was cloned using DNA preserved for 42 years, according to ABC Australia News. The Przewalski’s horse was considered extinct in the wild until 1994.
The male Przewalski’s horse foal named Kurt was the first born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since the year 2014, and was part of a breeding program intended to increase the species’s genetic diversity.
Kurt, who is named after former zoo board member Kurt Benirschke, MD, was born to a surrogate mother, a domestic quarter horse, and s the clone of a male Przewalski’s stallion whose DNA was frozen 42 years ago in the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s (SDZWA) Wildlife Biodiversity Bank.
Wildlife care director Kristi Burtis said the birth was a “tremendous moment”.
“We’ve had more than 157 Przewalski’s horses born at the zoo and the Safari Park,” Ms Burtis said.
“They are an important wild horse species, and this new foal — along with each individual that was born at our parks — bolsters their fragile population, and represents our deep commitment to conserving them for future generations.”
“Kurt is significant to his species because he offers the hope of bringing back lost genetic diversity to the population,” SDZWA chief conservation and wildlife health officer Nadine Lamberski said.