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Italian scientists clone horse

By Associated Press
Published April 17, 2005

ROME - Italian scientists said they have created their second cloned horse - produced from the DNA of a thoroughbred Arabian gelding race champion.

The foal, named Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion, was born Feb. 25, weighed 93 pounds and was "in excellent health," said scientists at the Laboratory of Reproductive Technology in the northern Italian city of Cremona.

The young stallion was cloned from Pieraz, retired to a stable in the United States after winning world endurance championships in 1994 and 1996. The lab said the new cloned horse would not compete, but as a stallion would be able to pass on its genes.

The laboratory classified the birth as a breakthrough that paves the way for preserving the lines of the best race horses by creating clones that can breed.

"This new approach opens the possibility of conserving the genetic inheritance of exceptional horses whose genetic heritage gets lost because they are castrated," the laboratory stated Thursday.

Cesare Galli, director of the laboratory, said racing horses are sometimes castrated at 3 years old to make them easier to train.

But at least in North America, the official breed registry said its rules ban cloned animals.

"Every thoroughbred in our registry is the descendant of two thoroughbreds, so this concerns the integrity of the breed," said the Jockey Club's spokesman, Bob Curran Jr.

"If some scientist cloned a horse and wanted to raise the cloned horse in their back yard that's fine, but that horse would not be registered by the Jockey Club," Curran said.

[Last modified April 17, 2005, 00:26:13]

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