Through state-of-the-art cloning technology, scientists in China cloned, for the first time ever, the first Arctic wolf.
The world’s first cloned wild arctic wolf was unveiled via video by a Beijing-based gene sequencing company 100 days after its birth. Clone technology is enabling the breeding of rare and endangered animals, according to experts. As a way of saving the endangered species, scientists say they began a research collaboration in 2020 aimed at cloning the arctic wolf. After two years of careful work, the arctic wolf was successfully cloned. Mi Jidong, general manager of Sinogene Biotechnology Co., a Beijing-based company, said at a press conference in Beijing that it is the first case of its kind in the world.
Cloning technology has been used to create the world’s first cloned wild arctic wolf, which experts consider to be of great importance to the conservation of rare and endangered species. According to the video, the wolf, Maya, was born on June 10 and is in excellent health. An arctic wolf introduced to Harbin Polarland from Canada provided the donor cell for the cloning. Zhao Jianping, the company’s deputy general manager, said the oocyte came from a female dog and the surrogate mother was a beagle.
As part of cloning the arctic wolf, 137 embryos were created using enucleated oocytes and somatic cells, followed by transferring 85 embryos to the uteri of seven beagles, one of whom was born as a healthy wolf. Due to the genetic resemblance between dogs and ancient wolves and the higher likelihood of success through cloning, experts chose a dog as Maya’s surrogate.
In an interview with the Global Times, He Zhengming, head of the Chinese Experimental Animal Resources Research Institute for Food and Drug Control, said cloned animals could still reproduce if their fertilized eggs were intact. As a result of cloning, all genetic information can be copied for selective breeding, allowing endangered species to be diversified. Using cloning technology, it has been possible to diversify populations of animals such as cattle, pigs, and horses since the first mammal clone was created, “Dolly.”
According to experts, cloning cells preserved from freezing technologies could be used to generate new life when endangered species are identified in some places. A partnership between Sinogene Biotechnology Co and Beijing Wildlife Park on gene-seed preservation and cloning technology applications for rare and endangered wild animals has been announced to boost the breeding of more rare and endangered animals through cloning technology.
Deputy manager Gao Wei told the Global Times that Beijing Wildlife Park would take advantage of the partnership with the gene company to preserve rare and endangered species when artificial reproduction is not possible. However, as of yet, there are no specific projects being undertaken between the two organizations. On the other hand, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration says it’s committed to protecting endangered wildlife species and their habitats in its 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).