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Researchers create hybrid embryos of endangered white rhinos

The first-time feat offers a tiny glimmer of hope for saving the northern white rhinoceros

By
2:50pm, July 4, 2018
white rhino

VANISHING ACT  These two female northern white rhinos, seen here at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, are the only living members of their subspecies.

The nearly extinct northern white rhino may not be completely lost.

For the first time, white rhinoceros embryos have been made in the lab. Scientists injected preserved sperm from a male northern white rhino into eggs of female southern white rhinos, a closely related subspecies. The embryos were incubated until the cells began to differentiate, a stage at which they can be implanted into a surrogate mother, researchers report July 4 in Nature Communications.

The new feat is “one of the really crucial steps” to eventually producing new rhino calves, says study coauthor Jan Stejskal, coordinator of northern white rhino conservation efforts at the Safari Park Dvůr Králové in the Czech Republic. Eventually, researchers hope to implant similar embryos into female southern white rhinos or hybrid northern-southern white rhinos.

If it works, it could provide hope for bringing back a

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