A puppy named “Klondike” is one of the first pups in the world to be born from a frozen embryo.
In the future, the technique could be used to help replenish populations of endangered canines, such as the red wolf.
Cornell University researchers waited a bit to announce the success story. Klondike, a beagle-Labrador retriever mix, is now 9 months old. The scientists likely wanted to make sure that the puppy developed normally, without any major health problems.
So far so good. From what I’ve seen, Klondike is extremely playful, energetic and curious. In other words, he appears to be a typical puppy.
His beagle mother was fertilized using artificial insemination. The resulting embryos were collected and frozen until Klondike’s surrogate mother, another beagle, was ready to receive the embryo.
Beagles and Labs are not endangered, but the same method likely could be used on any number of rare canines. Freezing tissues such as fertilized eggs, a process called cryopreservation, provides researchers with a tool to repopulate endangered species.
Because female dogs can only become pregnant once or twice a year, being able to freeze canine embryos is very important in coordinating timing for transfer into the surrogates.
“Reproduction in dogs is remarkably different than in other mammals,” Alex Travis, who worked on the project and is director of Cornell’s campus-wide Center for Wildlife Conservation, said in a press release.
“We’re working to understand these differences so we can tackle issues ranging from developing contraceptives to preserving the genetic diversity of endangered animals through assisted reproduction.”
(Image: Cornell University Photography)