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White Northern Rhinos: Scientists create two embryos to save the animal



The last two white rhinos in the north of the world – Fatu and Najin – are both female and live at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The last male, Sudan, died last year, fearing that the subspecies is threatened with extinction, especially because the two females can not carry a pregnancy.

In a new glimmer of hope, scientists announced Wednesday that they had successfully fertilized in vitro embryos collected from the two remaining female white northern rhinos.

The embryos were made last month by international scientists using eggs extracted from Fatu and Najin and frozen semen from dead men. According to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, two embryos are viable and are now stored in liquid nitrogen. They are waiting to be transferred to a surrogate mother in the near future.

The embryos are only part of a long journey to stop the rapid decline of the Northern White Rhino.

Najin and Fatu are unable to conceive themselves, which is why the embryos are likely to be transferred to a female southern white rhinoceros that will replace them.

"Five years ago, it seemed like the production of a Northern White Rhino was almost unattainable ̵
1; and today we have it," said Jan Stejskal of the Dvůr Králové Zoo, where Najin and Fatu were born.
  Najin (left) and Fatu are the last two northern white rhinos on the planet.

The process takes years to produce

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy acquired the northern white rhinos – two males and two females – in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Both male white Northern rhinos died and left the fate of the subspecies of female rhinos behind.

Sudan died of natural causes in March last year, and another man died in 2014. The sperm of both males was cryogenically frozen, hoping that the technology would do so far enough advanced to use it for reproduction ,

Years later, it happened. The harvested eggs were flown from Kenya to Italy, where scientists from the Avantea Laboratory fertilized the eggs in vitro with the semen of the deceased males.

A race against time

Rhinos are attacked by poachers, fueled by belief in Asia, that their horns heal various ailments. Experts say the rhino is becoming more lucrative than drugs.

With only two more left in the world, there is a race against time to try to get the Northern White Rhino.

The western black rhino was declared extinct years ago due to poaching. According to the conservation group Save the Rhino, all five remaining rhino species are threatened worldwide.

Christina Zdanowicz of CNN contributed to this report.


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