On Aug. 6, 2020, the world’s first successfully cloned Przewalski’s horse was born in Texas at the veterinary facility of a ViaGen Equine collaborator, Timber Creek Veterinary. The foal, born to a domestic surrogate mother, is a clone of a male Przewalski’s horse whose DNA was cryopreserved 40 years ago at the San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) Frozen Zoo®. The colt’s birth revives genetic diversity that had been lost to the world and has now been recovered due to this important partnership between Revive & Restore, ViaGen Equine and San Diego Zoo Global.
“The work to save endangered species requires collaborative and dedicated partners with aligned goals,” said Paul A. Baribault, president/CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “We share in this remarkable achievement because we applied our multidisciplinary approach, working with the best scientific minds and utilizing precious genetic material collected and stored in our wildlife DNA bio bank.”
The colt represents the first time this species has been cloned, and scientists indicate it could provide an important model for future conservation efforts.
“This birth expands the opportunity for genetic rescue of endangered wild species,” said Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive & Restore. “Advanced reproductive technologies, including cloning, can save species by allowing us to restore genetic diversity that would have otherwise been lost to time.”
The new cloned foal, who will be moved to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to be integrated into a breeding herd of his species once he is older, represents a major milestone for Przewalski’s horse conservation. He was cloned from a cell line stored in the Frozen Zoo since 1980. That stallion was born in 1975 in the UK, was transferred to the US in 1978 and lived until 1998. As the new clone matures and successfully breeds, he can provide a valuable infusion of genetic diversity for the Przewalski’s horse population.