Prometea, the world’s first cloned horse, was born 28 May 2003 in Cremona, Italy. The world’s first cloned member of the equine family, a mule named Idaho Gem, was born a three weeks earlier: 04 May 2003.
Both animals were the product of scientific research.
- Idaho Gem, from the University of Idaho in Moscow.
- Prometea, from the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies in Cremona, Italy.
Idaho Gem’s birth was also unique because mules are sterile.
Prometea was named after Prometheus, one of the mythological Greek Titans and a god of fire. “Like Prometheus who took fire from God from Olympus, we hoped she would be brave to face these people who do not like what we do,” Professor Cesare Galli told New Scientist.
A Haflinger filly, Prometea was born to her genetically identical mother.
“She is both the first horse to be cloned and the first clone to be carried by her twin mother,” Professor Galli said.
To create Prometea, the researchers cultured skin cells from a Haflinger mare and fused them with oocytes that had no nucleus. Out of more than 300 embryos created, only 14 were viable after being in culture for seven days.
Two of these embryos were implanted into the same mare from which the cell line was derived. The remaining embryos were implanted into other surrogate mares. The only embryo that survived to term was Prometea.
On 17 March 2008, Prometea gave birth to a colt named Pegaso. His father was the Haflinger stallion Abendfurst; the pregnancy was via artificial insemination.
“Pegaso confirms, once again, that cloned animals can grow and reproduce normally, giving rise to healthy offspring,” Professor Galli told news organizations.
Each step in cloning mammals raises ethical questions about a woman giving birth to her cloned twin.