A critically endangered species of wild horse has been successfully cloned for the second time ever and is now thriving at San Diego Safari Park.
A Przewalski’s horse, sometimes called “the Last Wild Horse,” was born at ViaGen Pets & Equine’s cloning facility in Texas on Feb. 17. The foal and his mother, a domestic quarter horse, are now settling in at San Diego Safari Park, according to the organization.
The cloned horse has been given the name name “Ollie” in honor of Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., who works as the Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
Dr. Ryder oversees research activities in the areas of molecular genetics, genomic studies and genetic rescue efforts. The Wildlife Alliance says his efforts have been focused on “reducing extinction risk and contributing to species recovery.”
“It is an honor to have studied and worked with so many others on the conservation of this special animal, and to see come alive the possibility of using advanced genetic and reproductive technologies to sustain resilient populations in human care and in their native habitat,” said Dr. Ryder.
The foal is a clone of a male Przewalski’s horse whose living cell line was cryopreserved over 40 years ago in the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Biodiversity Bank’s Frozen Zoo, the organization explained.
The world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse, “Kurt,” also lives at the Safari Park. He was born in August 2020 from the same stallion’s living cell line, making him “Ollie’s” genetic twin, the organization explained.
Park officials say this type of horse was formerly considered an endangered species and was categorized as “Extinct in the Wild” until 1996. The park said the Przewalski’s horse has survived for the past 40 years almost entirely in zoos around the world.