I Want To Believe
- May 13, 2002
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- The Dark Side
This Ferret Died 33 Years Ago. Scientists Just Brought Her Back to Life.
Meet Elizabeth Ann, the very first clone of a U.S. endangered species.
After the donor ferret, Willa, died in 1988, scientists sent her cells to the Frozen Zoo at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance in order to preserve her DNA. Their foresight paid off in November 2020, when Willa’s genes were injected into an embryo, zapped “awake” with a bolt of electricity, and implanted into the uterus of a domestic ferret, who gave birth to Elizabeth Ann on December 10.
“Cloning, itself, is actually not cutting-edge,” says Ben Novak, lead scientist at the California-based nonprofit Revive & Restore, which led the black-footed ferret project. “What’s really innovative about what we’ve done is that we reached back in time to bring back something that had been lost.”