The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset
Black-footed Ferret
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Black-footed Ferret Cloning Research

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is working alongside recovery partners and scientists at Revive & Restore, ViaGen Pets & Equine, San Diego Zoo Global, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to explore solutions to genetic diversity challenges and disease resistance for black-footed ferrets using the latest advancements in genetic research.

The first significant milestone of this ongoing partnership occurred on December 10, 2020, with the birth of “Elizabeth Ann,” created from the frozen cells of “Willa,” a black-footed ferret that lived more than 30 years ago. Today, all black-footed ferrets are descended from seven individuals, resulting in unique genetic challenges to recovering this species. Cloning may help address significant genetic diversity and disease resilience barriers to support habitat conservation and reestablishment of additional populations in the wild. Once thought to be extinct, these efforts follow decades of captive breeding efforts by the Service and partners with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

February 18, 2021 Press Release: USFWS and Partners Conduct Innovative Genetic Cloning Research to Further Black-footed Ferret Conservation Efforts

See more photos on our Flickr album!

A black-footed ferret kit looks at the camera, poking through a hole in the floor of its enclosure

Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret and first-ever cloned U.S. endangered species, at 68-days old. Credit: USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. View in Flickr.

A black-footed ferret kit looks up at the camera from inside its enclosure

Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret and first-ever cloned U.S. endangered species, at 48-days old. Credit: USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. View in Flickr.

A black-footed ferret lays with her newborn kits in their enclosure

Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret and first-ever cloned U.S. endangered species, with her domestic siblings and surrogate mother. Credit: USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. View in Flickr.

A black-footed ferret kit pokes its head through a tube in its enclosure, looking at the camera

Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret and first-ever cloned U.S. endangered species, at 50-days old. Credit: USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. View in Flickr.


Additional resources

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: February 23, 2021
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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