Rare Kittens Born at Audobon Nature Institute
The Audobon Nature Institute in New Orleans introduced two rare wildcat kittens, born from a frozen embryo.
On February 13, two male, rare African black-footed cats were born at the Nature Institute. The species is vulnerable, with only 19 currently living in zoos and just 40 worldwide. But the story gets even more interesting. In 2003 the sperm that would create these kittens was collected from a cat named Ramses in Nebraska. Two years later, it was combined with an egg, creating embryos. These embryos were frozen for almost six years, and in 2010 were transferred to a female black-footed cat named Bijou. Sixty nine days later these kittens were the first to be born in-vitro, using frozen genetic components. Although they look like typical domesticated cats, they reach only 3 lbs and are one of the world’s smallest wild felines.
“The science of assisted reproduction for endangered species has come a long way in the past fifteen years, but every time we can point to another ‘first’ in the field it gives us hope,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman.