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On Aug. 6, 2020, the world welcomed the first successfully cloned Przewalski’s horse. The foal, named Kurt, was born to a domestic surrogate mother but is the clone of a Przewalski’s horse stallion whose DNA was cryopreserved over 40 years ago. When Kurt breeds, he will be the first animal to restore lost genetic diversity to his species.

Kurt’s first few months

Kurt was born in Texas at Timber Creek – the veterinary facility of our cloning partner, ViaGen Pets and Equine. He was named in honor of Kurt Benirschke, M.D., who was instrumental in founding the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Frozen Zoo and the conservation research program at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

“This colt is expected to be one of the most genetically important individuals of his species. We are hopeful that he will bring back genetic variation important for the future of the Przewalski’s horse population.”

Bob Wiese

Chief life sciences officer at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

In early 2021, Kurt moved to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Kurt was born to a domestic quarter horse, which means he had never interacted with other Przewalski’s horses. San Diego Zoo Safari Park wildlife care experts embarked on an effort to ensure the young male gained the behavioral language he will need to interact and thrive among his own species. In May of 2021, Kurt was introduced, for the first time, to another member of his species – a young filly named Holly.

“Our goal to clone a Przewalski’s horse was to see future generations of this species benefit. This relationship between Kurt and Holly is an important part of Kurt’s maturation, and bodes well for the genetic rescue of other endangered species around the world.”

Ryan Phelan

Co-Founder, Executive Director at Revive & Restore

September 8, 2022

Watch this video to see Kurt and Holly enjoy their new spacious habitat at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Video credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

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“To see Kurt galloping and whinnying with Holly so naturally, you’d think he was born in the wild. It’s thrilling! Cloning for conservation is off to a beautiful start!”

Ben Novak, Lead ScientistRevive & Restore