SEATTLE (AP) - Three young mules who are the first members of the horse family to be cloned are all healthy, normal and energetically enjoying life, say researchers who put them on display here Sunday.
Idaho Gem, born May 4, 2003, was the first successful cloning of an equine. He was followed by siblings Utah Pioneer on June 9 and Idaho Star on July 27. The clonings were a project of the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.
All three were born to surrogate mares from embryos that were cloned using eggs from horses and cells taken from the 45-day-old fetus of a mule. The cloned mules are the true siblings of Taz, a famous racing mule. Researchers bred Taz's parents, a jack donkey and a horse mare, and allowed the resulting fetus to grow for 45 days. This provided the DNA needed for the clones.