Elizabeth Ann is the first endangered American animal to be cloned. She is a black-footed ferret who reportedly came from the frozen cells of an ancestor who lived more than 30 years ago, named Willa.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed Elizabeth Ann to the world on Thursday. Born to a surrogate mother, the success of her cloning is “a landmark achievement that boosts conservation efforts,” according to CNN. Scientists hope that she will one day be able to mate and help save the species from going extinct.
Black-footed ferrets are one of North America’s most endangered species.
The National Park Service explains that black-footed ferrets were declared extinct in 1980 when the last captive ferret of its kind died. The following year, however, a ranch dog in Wyoming killed a black-footed ferret and the species was rediscovered. It was determined that about 130 black-footed ferrets were thriving on a Wyoming farm, but by 1987 only 18 remained.