With DNA from recently dead animals, an international team has cloned an imperiled
The unveiling of a mouflon sheep clone “is the first report of a dead cell used
for cloning,” says Pasqualino Loi of the University of Teramo in Italy.
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Herds of rare wild mouflon sheep, Ovis orientalis musimon, are shrinking on their native Mediterranean islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and Cyprus. When two ewes died at a wildlife rescue center in Sardinia, the staff sent tissue to Loi and his
The scientists substituted nuclei from cells of the mouflon ewes for nuclei in egg
cells from a domestic sheep. Out of 23 substituted eggs, seven developed enough
for transfer to surrogate domestic sheep mothers. In the summer of 2000, one ewe
delivered a mouflon lamb. The researchers announced their success in the October
Loi and his coworkers welcome the lamb as the first viable clone of an endangered
species. An American team cloned a rare wild ox called a gaur last year (SN: 2/10/01, p. 95: Cloned gaur born healthy, then dies), but the calf died from a common disease within a week of birth.
Regardless of which team proved the principle first, advocates of cloning rare
animals contend that such measures add a useful tool to the options for saving