Wild cat mothered by a domestic cat
African Wildcat Botswana - photo randomtruth (Flickr)
I'd just like to chew over a story that has been around for about 10 years but the video only seems to have been made available recently.
The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species is in part concerned with the storing of genetic material of wild species to preserve endangered species and to then recreate it in the future. I presume that this is a kind of doomsday scenario. When a species is extinct in the wild the frozen genetic material can be brought to life and the wild repopulated with the once extinct species.
On the path to that cutting edge science the team at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species have placed an African wildcat embryo (created from frozen sperm and a frozen egg) into the womb of a domestic cat, a random bred cat as it happens. Her name is Cayenne and she was 6 years old at the time of the birth. She is an American short hair cat.
The surrogate mum gave birth to wildcat kitten, Jazz, and treats her as one of her own. The reason why the embryo was placed in a domestic cat was because it is a trial for the time when the species concerned is extinct. In which case there would be no wildcat in which to place the embryo.
Here is the video:
The wildcat kitten looks like an active grey tabby cat but is purebred wildcat. This process was a first with cats, apparently.
This sounds great and as I said cutting edge. But I get depressed reading about it and not excited as I should be.
We are planning for the time when the wildcats will be extinct. It is a process of failure not success.
I would like to see more effort at a very senior level to preserve what we have got in the wild now and not preserve frozen material for use in the future.
It could almost be argued that in preparing for possible extinction we are creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. We are generating a mindset that allows us to let the wildcats gradually become extinct in the wild.
I genuinely feel that despite the highly committed work by many wonderful conservationists we are losing the battle of preserving wildcats in the wild because conservationists cannot beat big business. It is big business that is destroying wildcat habitat (and local business, in fact). And loss of habitat is the biggest threat in general to the wildcats.