For the first time ever, two unrelated clones of cat have bred naturally to produce healthy babies - a scientific breakthough that could open the way to bringing endangered species back from nearly extinction.
The births advance the science of high-tech reproduction for endangered species by confirming that clones of wild animals can breed naturally, making critically important contributions to shrinking gene pools of animals on the brink of extinction.
The Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans unveiled the successful experiment this week. Two cloned mothers gave birth to a total of eight African wildcats over the past few weeks.
The first five kittens were born last month to the African wildcat Madge, who is a clone of the wildcat Nancy. The second litter, consisting of three kittens, was born on Aug. 2 to the African wildcat Caty, also a clone of the wildcat Nancy. The father of both litters is Ditteaux, a clone of the African wildcat Jazz. Jazz made headlines when he was born as the result of transfer of cryopreserved (frozen) embryos to a domestic cat.
The kittens will be shown to the public at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans later on this year, according to a report.
Scientists are also reportedly working to clone the endangered bongo antelope, clouded leopard and other animals, Local 6 News reports.