After you’re done taking in the photo of this baby African Black-Footed kitten above (there will be more after the jump, I promise), here’s why he and his brother made the news today: they are the first animals to have been born from a frozen embryo via in vitro fertilization. Their birth is part of a larger undertaking to try to revive endangered species of all kinds using technology. The results so far? Adorbz. Remember when I said there would be more pics? Please, follow me!
Both kittens were born February 13, 2011 to a surrogate mother named Bijou. The sperm used to conceive them was extracted in 2003 from a 6-year old male named Ramses. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo Center for Conservation and Research – Reproductive Sciences Department then sent the frozen sperm to the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species and combined it with the eggs from a female named Zora in 2005. They were finally transferred into Bijou this past December.
Sixty-nine days later, the two kittens became the first of their species to be born as a result of in-vitro fertilization utilizing frozen/thawed sperm and a frozen/thawed embryo.
Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman says: “We are proving this science works and that we can provide hi-tech options for many different species as the situation grows more and more critical for wildlife across the globe.”
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