Did you know that in 1996, scientists cloned a sheep called Dolly? The cells from adult sheep cells were used to create an embryo that was then born and named Dolly the sheep! So, if we can do that with farm animals, why not with endangered animals too?
By the 1980s, experts assumed that the black-footed ferret was extinct, so when a small colony of black-footed ferrets was discovered, scientists tried to breed them to grow the population. However, only seven of them were able to reproduce, which meant this particular ferret population wasn’t very diverse—a sign of possible endangerment to the species. So, for the first time in the United States, an endangered species has been cloned using preserved cells. The cells came from Willa the ferret, who died in the 1980s, and the cloned kit, Elizabeth Ann, was born in December 2020. She’s being raised with other black-footed ferrets and will hopefully mate to produce more ferrets, eventually removing the population from the endangered-species list.