Scientists in China create world’s first cloned wild Arctic wolf ‘Maya’

A wild Arctic wolf was successfully cloned for the first time in the world by a Beijing-based gene firm. The cloning of the Arctic wolf, also known as the white wolf or polar wolf, which is native to the High Arctic tundra of Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Islands, is considered a milestone achievement in conserving rare and endangered species through cloning technology.

“To save the endangered animal, we started the research cooperation with Harbin Polarland on cloning the Arctic wolf in 2020. After two years of painstaking efforts, the Arctic wolf was cloned successfully. It is the first case of its kind in the world,” the Global Times quoted Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Co’s general manager Mi Jidong as saying.

According to the company, the wolf named Maya is in good health. The donor cell of the wolf came from the skin sample of a wild female Arctic wolf and its oocyte was taken from a female dog. According to the Global Times report, Maya’s surrogate mother was a beagle, a dog breed. The dog was selected as the surrogate as it shares genetic ancestry with ancient wolves and hence, ensures success in cloning.

According to Zhao Jianping, the company’s deputy general manager, the process began with constructing 137 new embryos from enucleated (process of removing the nucleus from a cell) oocytes and somatic cells followed by the transfer of 85 embryos to the uteri of seven beagles, of which one was born as a healthy wolf.

Cloning, the process of creating copies of living organisms, including cells, tissues, etc, was first used to create an animal in 1996 by a Scottish scientist. The animal, a sheep named Dolly, was made using an udder cell from an adult sheep.

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