The world’s first clone of a wild wolf was born from a beagle

A genetic lab in Beijing, China, has discovered the world’s first feral wolf clone: ​​a female named Maya, born 100 days ago. According to experts, this is an important step towards the conservation of rare and endangered animals through cloning technology.

Maya, born June 10, 2022, is the world’s first cloned wild wolf. Image: Sinogene Biotechnology Co.

“To save endangered species, in 2020 we launched a research collaboration with the Harbin Polarland Institute to clone Arctic wolves. After two years of strenuous effort, the animal was successfully cloned. This is the first such case in the world,” said Mi Jidong, general manager of Sinogene Biotechnology, at a press conference.

Born on June 10, the “wolf cub” is in good health, as seen in a video posted by the company. The donor cell that created it was taken from a skin sample from another Maya, a 16-year-old female wild Arctic wolf from Canada, which was taken to Harbin Polarland.

Zhao Jianping, deputy general manager of Sinogene, explained to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily, that the cloning of the Arctic wolf was carried out with the creation of 137 oocyte (eggs) embryos. ) enucleated canines and somatic cells, followed by transfer of 85 of them into the uterus of seven female beagles. Of these, only in one “harbor”, as they say, Maya was born.

The choice of dog eggs and a female as “surrogacy” was made because dogs share a common genetic lineage with ancient wolves, making them more successful in cloning technology, the researchers said.

He Zhengming, director of the China Animal Resources Research Institute for Food and Drug Control, told the Global Times that cloned animals have the ability to reproduce if they have intact fertilized eggs. Cloning technology makes it possible to copy all the genetic information for selective breeding and thus diversify the population of endangered animals.

Since the advent of the world’s first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, cloning technology has diversified the populations of certain species such as cattle, pigs and horses.

However, there has been some controversy surrounding the cloning of the Arctic wolf. Sun Quanhui, a scientist at the World Organization for Animal Welfare, told the Global Times that cloning technology has made great progress since its inception, but it is still being improved and is in the exploratory research phase, which requires many technical and ethical issues to be addressed. decided. handle with care. .

Sun raised several questions. “Are there any health risks associated with cloned animals? Under what circumstances is animal cloning allowed? How does cloning affect biodiversity? »

In his opinion, cloning should only be considered for animals whose species are extinct in the wild and whose populations in captivity are very limited.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included Arctic wolves on the Red List of Threatened Species. In China, arctic wolves are imported from abroad and bred in zoos.

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