A clone of celebrated show jumper ET has been born at College Station in Texas, USA. The foal, named E.T. Cryozootech-Stallion is a genetically identical copy of his sire and will be used exclusively for breeding purposes from the age of three. Despite the risks of genetic flaws developing during the cloning process, scientists report that the foal is healthy and his progeny should be available by 2009.
ET, now 20, won two world cups with Austrian show jumper Hugo Simon but as a gelding he was unable to reproduce naturally. In September 2003, Hugo Simon and Eric Palmer, founders of Cryozootech, decided to clone him. A skin biopsy was carried out while the horse was still competing and the cloning process started in collaboration with the University of Texas.
Cells from the horse were removed during a biopsy and kept frozen in liquid nitrogen. An egg was then taken from another horse and its nucleus replaced with one from an ET cell containing almost all of his genetic code. The egg was then implanted into a surrogate mother who gave birth to E.T. Cryozootech-Stallion in June.
The foal is a genetic duplicate of his sire in all but negligible detail. Both horses have two hind leg socks but their facial markings are different.
Even before the birth, international breeders formed a syndicate to manage shares in E.T.Cryozootech-Stallion. A total of 200 shares are available, giving holders the right to use the stallion for reproduction.
The foal is soon to be transported to the Cryozootech stud in France where it will eventually begin work as a stallion.