DENVER – Black-footed ferret recovery efforts aimed at increased genetic diversity and disease resistance took a bold step forward Dec. 10, 2020, with the birth of “Elizabeth Ann,” created from the frozen cells of “Willa,” a black-footed ferret that lived more than 30 years ago. The groundbreaking effort to explore solutions to help recover this endangered species results from an innovative partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and species recovery partners and scientists at Revive & Restore, ViaGen Pets & Equine, San Diego Zoo Global, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“The Service sought the expertise of valued recovery partners to help us explore how we might overcome genetic limitations hampering recovery of the black-footed ferret, and we’re proud to make this announcement today,” said Noreen Walsh, Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, where the Service’s National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center is located. “Although this research is preliminary, it is the first cloning of a native endangered species in North America, and it provides a promising tool for continued efforts to conserve the black-footed ferret.”