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Welcome to the world, Kurt

What can you do about inbreeding in a small population of a species that nearly went extinct? Well, if the species is Przewalski’s horse, one thing you can do is inject some new diversity into the genepool by cloning a genetically very distinct stallion whose cells you happened to put in liquid nitrogen forty years ago. The whole amazing story is on the website of the Revive & Restore project.

The new foal’s name is Kurt. Why?

Kurt is named in honor of Dr. Kurt Benirshke, a geneticist at the San Diego Zoo who in 1975 had a prescient idea. Dr. Benirshke began what is now the Frozen Zoo, collecting and cryopreserving the cell lines of endangered species and safely storing away genetic diversity before it was lost. At the time the collection was a bet on cloning and reproductive technologies that did not yet exist. Nearly fifty years later, with the partnership of San Diego Zoo Global Frozen Zoo, Revive & Restore, and ViaGen Pets and Equine, Dr. Benirschke’s plans are quite literally coming to life.

h/t Beth Shapiro.

LATER: A bit more background on Przewalski’s horse just out.

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