Though many people don’t think of ferrets as an endangered animal, as they can be found in plenty of pet stores around the world, one species of ferret is at risk of extinction.
The black-footed ferret has been considered endangered for some years now, and in fact, it was thought extinct until 1981. Then, seven of the ferrets were found on a Wyoming farm. One of those ferrets named Willa had her cells cloned after passing away in 1988, and through the marvels of science, her clone, Elizabeth Ann, was born in December.
As a tiny baby, Elizabeth Ann nursed with the help of a surrogate mother, who is a domestic ferret.
Elizabeth Ann is the first-ever cloned black-footed ferret. Though these cute critters are naturally found in the wild and aren’t domesticated, Elizabeth Ann won’t be released into the wild, instead living at the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center, where she can be raised, protected, and studied by experts on her species.
Thankfully, Elizabeth Ann is growing as expected, and though she’s going to live her life in captivity, she’s got plenty of toys to play with for enrichment. Her birth and survival could have huge implications for the continuity of her species, which could be brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to cloning technology!