Scientists create new embryos to save African mammal

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On Monday, a team of scientists in Kenya announced the creation of five fresh embryos to save Africa’s northern white rhino from extinction.

According to BioRescue, the project’s scientific consortium, 18 eggs were gathered from a female named Fatu in May and fertilized with sperm from two separate bulls to promote “genetic diversity.”

Fatu and her mother, Najin, are the world’s last two northern white rhinos, and they live on Kenya’s 90,000-acre Ol Pejeta wildlife sanctuary, which is protected from poachers.

Following the death of the last male, Sudan, the northern white rhino subspecies was declared functionally extinct in 2018.

“Four years after launching this audacious project to save the Northern White Rhino from extinction, the BioRescue consortium has made significant progress toward its ultimate goal,” BioRescue said in a statement.

The consortium’s most recent endeavor produced the most embryos from any egg collection since the project’s inception.

“Previous procedures in November 2022 and February 2023 yielded two and zero embryos, respectively,” the company said.

So far, 29 fertilized eggs have been generated using advanced assisted reproduction technology and cryopreserved (stored at low temperatures for eventual transfer to surrogate mothers).

According to the consortium, two wild southern white rhino females, Fatu and Najin, have been identified as prospective surrogate moms.