Meet Futhi, Africa's first cloned animal

Africa’s first cloned animal, a two-and-a-half-week-old calf, was introduced to the media near Brits in the North-West on Wednesday.

Named Futhi—which means “again” in Zulu—she originated from DNA taken from the ear of a former South African milk production record holder cow, whose yield peaked at 78 litres a day, veterinarian Dr Morne de la Rey said.

The cloning was done by Prof Gabor Vajta of Denmark, in conjunction with De la Rey of the Embrio Plus Embrio And Al Centre, and another veterinarian, Dr Robert Treadwell.

“There is no reason to think her life expectancy or her ability to produce milk would differ from her mother’s,” De la Rey said.

The mother was now nine years old and soon to give birth to a calf naturally. De la Rey was asked about the disadvantages of the cloning, particularly with reference to the world’s first cloned animal—the sheep Dolly—that died prematurely.

He said the survival rate of cloned animals was at present lower than that of their normal counterparts. At first, it was the same with in-vitro technology.

One should take into account that cloning technology was now where in-vitro techniques were 20 years ago.

De la Rey pointed out that Dolly’s natural progeny was normal.
- Sapa

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