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Scientists to try to bring extinct mountain goat back through cloning

  |   Nov. 22, 2013 at 7:40 PM
ZARAGOZA, Spain, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Scientists in Spain say they'll attempt to clone an extinct mountain goat using frozen, preserved cells taken from the last living animal before it died.

The species known as a bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, went extinct in 2000, but cells from the last animal were collected and frozen in liquid nitrogen.

A previous attempt at cloning in 2003 saw a bucardo calf brought to term but it died shortly after birth. Despite that it was considered an an historic event, the first "de-extinction" in which a lost species or sub-species was resurrected.

Now researchers will make another attempt using the 14-year-old preserved cells from the last animal, which was named Celia.

"At this moment, we are not initiating a 'bucardo recovery plan,' we only want to know if Celia's cells are still alive after having been maintained frozen during 14 years in liquid nitrogen," Alberto Fernandez-Arias of the Center for Research and Food Technology of Aragon told BBC News.

If the cells prove to be intact, an attempt to clone embryos and implant them in female goats, researchers said.

"In this process, one or more live female bucardo clones could be obtained. If that is the case, the feasibility of a bucardo recovery plan will be discussed," Fernandez-Arias, head of the Aragon Hunting, Fishing and Wetlands Service, said.

One possible approach, researchers said, might be to cross a healthy female bucardo clone with a closely related sub-species such as the Spanish ibex and then selectively breeding the offspring to enhance traits typical of the bucardo.

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