Two Black-Footed Ferrets Successfully Cloned to Bolster Endangered Species Recovery Efforts

Two Black-Footed Ferrets Successfully Cloned to Bolster Endangered Species Recovery Efforts

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced the successful cloning of two black-footed ferrets, Noreen and Antonia.

Born last May, these ferrets represent a crucial step in the ongoing battle to save the critically endangered species.

Utilizing tissue samples collected from a female ferret named Willa back in 1988, scientists were able to clone Noreen and Antonia, following the pioneering birth of a black-footed ferret in 2020 using the same genetic material.

This cloning endeavor marks a significant milestone in the Conservation efforts aimed at preserving this species, which has faced endangerment since the 1960s due to factors such as agricultural expansion and the decline of their prey, the prairie dog.

Once believed to be extinct in 1979, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981, prompting the initiation of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program.

Capturing wild ferrets and breeding them in captivity became instrumental in increasing their population. Willa, one of the initially captured ferrets, did not have living descendants, but her genes and tissue samples were preserved, leading to the successful cloning efforts decades later.

Despite the success of the initial clone, Elizabeth Ann, issues with her reproductive organs rendered her unable to breed, necessitating further cloning attempts.

Noreen and Antonia, born from the same genetic material, offer renewed hope for the species’ survival. Both ferrets, now confirmed as healthy and meeting developmental milestones, will eventually contribute to breeding efforts once they reach reproductive age.

This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 21 April 2024. Image Credit : Best dog photo/Shutterstock.

What you can do

Help to save wildlife by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute.


Focusing on Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising.

Dive in!

Discover hidden wildlife with our FREE newsletters

We promise we’ll never spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info


Founder and Executive Editor

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply

Notify of