SAN DIEGO — For the first time on Thursday February 18 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they successfully cloned an endangered U.S. animal, the black foot ferret from the frozen cells of an ancestor. Elizabeth Ann, the cloned ferret was cloned from the cells of another black-footed ferret name Willa. She was one of the last wild black-footed ferrets. Her genes and tissue samples were taken to the San Diego Global’s Frozen Zoo in 1988. 

The Wildlife Service is collaborating with scientists at Revive & Restore, ViaGen Pets, San Diego Zoo Global, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to elevate genetic diversity and disease resistance. 

In a press release Noreen Walsh, the director of the service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, said, “Although this research is preliminary, it is the first cloning of a native endangered species in North America and it provides a promising tool for continued efforts to conserve the black-footed ferret.” The Fish and Wildlife Service called genetic cloning, “a tool to pave the way to conserve endangered and threatened species.”

At this time Elizabeth Ann will be cared for under the supervision of the service’s Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado.