SAN DIEGO — A once endangered species of wild horse has been successfully cloned — again.
A Przewalski’s horse, sometimes called “the Last Wild Horse,” was born at ViaGen Pets & Equine’s cloning facility in Texas on Feb. 17 and will soon be moved the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. That’s according to an announcement by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance on Wednesday.
Officials said, “Scientists are elated with the recent birth of the world’s second successfully cloned Przewalski’s horse, supporting the concept that cloning can be used as a viable tool for genetic rescue and contribute to new options for fostering resilience and genetic sustainability of endangered species.”
The foal is a clone of a male Przewalski’s horse stallion whose living cell line was cryopreserved over 40 years ago in the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Biodiversity Bank’s Frozen Zoo, the organization explained in a news release.
Back in August 2020, the world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse, Kurt, was born from the same cell line and wildlife officials say the newest foal is his genetic twin.
“The most transformative moments in conservation happen when the brightest minds collaborate and discover new possibilities for wildlife,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Our work to rescue endangered species is possible because we’ve come together as an alliance of conservationists, whose goal is to help create a world where all life thrives. We are inspired by this incredible achievement and the impact it will have on Przewalski’s horses worldwide.”
Wildlife officials say this type of horse was formerly considered an endangered species and was categorized as “Extinct in the Wild” until 1996. The park said the Przewalski’s horse has survived for the past 40 years almost entirely in zoos around the world.
The new foal, who hasn’t been named yet, will eventually join his clone at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Guests can visit Kurt, along with the rest of the Przewalski’s horse herd, any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Plan your visit here.
Officials say wildlife experts are working to ensure that Kurt, and eventually the new foal, gain the unique behavioral language they will need to interact and thrive among the larger herd of Przewalski’s horses at the Safari Park.