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May 3, 2005

Texas A&M Clones An Unidentified "Champion"

Researchers at Texas A&M University have produced the clone of a champion horse, the first such horse born in the United States. The bay foal was born on March 13 and announced on April 27 in College Station, Texas.

The foal is called "Paris Texas" because he was produced in cooperation with the French-Italian firm Cryozootech, which produced the clone of endurance World Champion Pieraz in February (see April 22, p. 135). The Texas foal is the clone of a horse Cryozootech officials will only say is "a European show jumping champion now more than 20 years old." They added that the clone has been produced for and paid for by the horse's owner.

They said that the "owner has decided to keep the identity of the donor confidential until he can present the donor and its more-than-20-years-younger twin together in an arena for registration in a European studbook."

Paris Texas weighed 60 pounds at birth and doubled in size during his first three weeks. He was carried to term by a Quarter Horse mare named Greta. Dr. Katrin Hinrichs of Texas A&M and Eric Palmer of Cryozootech have been working together since 1987. Hinrichs and fellow Texas A&M researchers have now cloned six animal species - cattle, pigs, goats, deer and a cat, in addition to the horse. Hinrichs cloned her daughter's Quarter Horse mare in 2003.

Palmer said Cryozootech will produce no additional cloned foals in 2005 since the cloned embryos of E.T. and Calvaro aborted. He said, though, that the Pieraz clone and the Texas clone "provide a guarantee of future success for this project." He added that the costs of cloning E.T. and Calvaro are being paid for by selling shares in them as future stallions.

And since the owner has paid the cost of producing Paris Texas, Palmer believes that "this is the first proof of a real market for horse cloning."

Cryozootech officials didn't say what the owner has paid to produce Paris Texas, but they have said previously that they charge clients approximately $5,700 to remove, culture and store tissue samples for 10 years, which doesn't include the costs associated with producing a fetus and then a foal.

Hinrichs has estimated the cost of producing a cloned horse at $100,000, while Idaho State University spent $250,000 to produce each of their cloned mules.

 
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