Happy Meow-Mom’s Day!
Today we celebrate the moms of the cat world with this news from rawstory:
House-cat surrogate mom gives birth to endangered kitten
At the Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species in Algiers, Louisiana, a rare African black-footed kitten named Crystal was born on February 6, 2012. She was born as part of a program in which regular domestic cats act as surrogate mothers to rare and endangered offspring.
According to Grist.org, African black-footed cats are among the smallest known felines, but are ferocious hunters, often killing prey that outweighs them, like hares. They can range far from water sources, obtaining hydration from the animals they kill and by licking dew from plants.
However, Grist says, “none of this general feline badassery has kept the species from becoming severely endangered — there are only 40 in captivity worldwide.”
Wow, how ’bout that?!
Sarah Laskow explains:
This kitten, born in 2011, is an endangered black-footed cat, one of the first black-footed kittens born to a surrogate mother, using frozen embryos and in vitro fertilization. Now he and his littermate have a sister, Crystal, with the same genetic parents, but a different surrogate mom — a plain old housecat.
The Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana, which bred Crystal and her brothers, is interested in using domestic cats as surrogates for a range of endangered and threatened kitties. These kittens might look like any cute kitten, but it’s pretty incredible to see one species give birth to another. The Times-Picayune asked the center how exactly these pregnancies work:
Their similar sizes and gestation lengths, [acting director Earle] Pope said, appear to be what made the pregnancy and birth physically possible even though the genetic makeup of the kitten differed from the mother.
“They’re considered to be of the same lineage,” he said. “Somewhere back a couple of million years ago, they’re descended from the same ancestor.
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