Chinese scientists created a first-of-its-kind Arctic wolf called Maya

She is quite healthy and playful.
Nergis Firtina
An arctic wolf
An arctic wolf

bjmc/iStock 

In the previous days, Australian scientists started working to bring the extinct Tasmanian Tiger back to life and had positive results.

The 1930s saw the demise of the last marsupial known as the thylacine. The team claims that the extinct thylacine may be revived with the use of stem cells and gene-editing technologies, and the first one might be "reintroduced" to the wild in the next ten years.

This time, thanks to Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Co, an arctic wolf -named Maya- was successfully cloned. This successful cloning is considered a milestone development in preserving rare and endangered species.

Maya, originally from the High Arctic tundra of Canada's Queen Elizabeth Islands, was created through the same technique behind Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal, cloned in Scotland in 1996.

"To save the endangered animal, we started the research cooperation with Harbin Polarland on cloning the Arctic wolf in 2020. After two years of painstaking efforts, the Arctic wolf was cloned successfully. It is the first case of its kind in the world," said Mi Jidong, the general manager of Sinogene Biotechnology Co, as Global Times reported.

Researchers used a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer to create Maya's embryo in the beagle's womb, which also serves as her playmate and surrogate mother.

"The newly born wolf has the same genome as the original wolf, but the cloned wolf hasn't lived with other wolves, but with a dog,” said Zhao Jianping, the Deputy General Manager of Sinogene.

“In fact, for cloned pet dogs and cats, there is also a problem of early socialization. The earlier the socialization, the more beneficial for its future development."

Maya is in good health

She is quite healthy and playful, the scientists say. In addition, as Euronews reported, there is a long and hard road for them. "It is relatively easier to clone canines and cats,” said Zhao.

“We'll continue to work in this field. In the next step, we may clone rare wild animals other than canines or cats … and it will be more difficult."

According to Dai Rui, the general manager of Harbin Polarland, the cloned wolf would initially live alone in the park because she might not be able to adapt to original arctic wolf groups. Maya's birth extends the life of a wild female arctic wolf named Maya, who was introduced from Canada in 2006 and died of old age in 2021.

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