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Richard Piatt reportingScientists from Utah State University and the University of Idaho are announcing a scientific breakthrough today: They have cloned a mule.
The mule made an appearance this morning at the U of I campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The implications of this successfully cloned mule are huge for the equine community, and come amid political and ethical controversy about cloning in general.
Nevertheless, scientists were thrilled to introduce a nearly month-old mule foal named 'Idaho Gem'.
The mule is the product of a cell that was fertilized along with 15 other eggs earlier this year, and this one is the only one that survived.
This Equine cloning project is the first of its kind -- the result of a collaborative effort between the University of Idaho and Utah State University.
For the scientists involved in the project, it's almost like the delivery of a newborn baby---one even likened the accomplishment to the first expedition to Mount Everest.
Dr. Dirk Vanderwale/University of Idaho: "THE FIRST CLONED FOAL, AS DOCTOR WOODS SAID IS VERY SPECIAL. JUST TO RECOGNIZE THE TIME AND EFFORT AND ACTIVITY THAT LED TO THE SUCESSFUL BIRTH OF THIS HEALTHY VIGOROUS FOLE, WHICH STOOD IN LESS THAN 15 MINUTES WHICH ITSELF IS REMARKABLE FOR AN EQUINE FOLE."
The implications of the cloned mule--aside from ethical considerations--are important for the equine industry, for instance cloning endangered horse species.
They acknowledge that regulations will have to be crafted among breeders about whether to allow cloning.
As you saw, the male foal is healthy and running around -- and you can bet scientists will be watching 'Idaho Gem' closely to see how he matures.