First Offspring of an Equine Clone Born in Italy

Prometea, the blazed Haflinger who gained notoriety in 2003 as the world's first horse clone, has given birth to a colt. Today the Laboratorio di Tecnologie della Riproduzione (LTR) in Cremona, Italy, announced the March 17 arrival of Pegaso, who was produced by a single artificial insemination attempt. Continuing the family tradition of world firsts, Pegaso is the first offspring of an equine clone, and he's apparently healthy and thriving.

Cloned mare Prometea and her foal

Prometea, the first cloned horse, and her new foal.

Cesare Galli, DVM, and his research team at LTR were responsible for the production of Prometea, who was born on May 28, 2003. The first equine clone, born May 4 of that year, was a mule colt that was followed by the birth of two more cloned mules in June and July, respectively. Mules are sterile, so Prometea was the first candidate for reproducing. She was bred to Haflinger stallion Abendfurst, using artificial insemination.

"During these five years Prometea has been in very good health and often at the center of media attention," the release reported. Galli notes this is "the ultimate proof of her normality."

"This achievement is a response to the many questions that always have surrounded Prometea--as well as other clones--and it closes the circle that started at her birth," the release continued. "Pegaso confirms, once again, that cloned animals can grow and reproduce normally, giving rise to healthy offspring."

Livestock clones remain under scrutiny as scientists search for physiological differences between cloned animals and naturally conceived ones. Currently, researchers at LTR are evaluating characteristics of animal products derived from bovine clones and their offspring.

According to Galli and the LTR scientists, Pegaso's birth is especially significant because many successful sport horses were castrated at a young age. "This is a bitter reality that clashes with the driving principle of animal breeding and selection that is based on the reproduction of superior individuals to pursue genetic improvement of the breed," reported the release. "Therefore, today, horse cloning is simply an assisted reproduction technique that allows (us) to obtain copies/clones of castrated champion horses and, finally, from these clones, the champion's offspring that otherwise ... would never be born."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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