Scientists in America are celebrating the live birth of the world’s first cloned mule, which was born in Idaho on 4 May.

The birth of Idaho Gem (pictured) is a milestone in equine genetics and breeding. This step could pave the way for cloning to play a role in the future development of competition horses, in particular racing.

The arrival of the male mule, which is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse, comes after five years of extensive research at the University of Idaho Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory.

Scientists successfully injected a mare’s egg with DNA from a donkey and then implanted the fertilised egg into a surrogate mare.

Both Idaho Gem and his surrogate mother are reported to be doing well, but as the foal develops scientists will keep a close eye on his development as previous cloning attempts on other species have often shown development problems.

Professor Woods from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory told the Daily Telegraph: “Idaho Gem is doing great, his birth was natural and unassisted. He rose to his feet by 12 minutes and when allowed to roam on the grass at 33 hours of life, he romped like a rabbit. This is one healthy animal.”

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