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CREMONA, ITALY » Scientists announced Wednesday they have succeeded in creating two embryos of the nearly extinct northern white rhino as part of an international effort to save the species, which is down to just two animals worldwide, both of them female.

The embryos, created in the lab with eggs taken from the females and frozen sperm from dead males, are now stored in liquid nitrogen, to be transferred into a surrogate mother — a southern white rhino — in the near future.

“Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino,” said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

The institute is part of an international consortium of scientists and conservationists that has been planning and developing the procedure for years. The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habitat in Africa.

The last male northern white rhino was a 45-year-old named Sudan, who was euthanized in 2018 because of age-related illness.

Shared from the 9/12/2019 The Denver Post eEdition



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