Up to 2,000 animal extinctions happen daily on our planet right now. One of those species is the Northern White Rhinoceros, which is functionally extinct today. There are still two members of the species living on our planet, but neither one is capable of reproduction.
Scientists at the San Diego Zoo have a plan to change that outcome. They want to use frozen DNA to create an embryo that they would implant in a Southern White Rhino using IVF technology. If that effort is successful, then it could represent a miraculous recovery for a species on the brink of destruction
As of January 2020, three embryos had been created using this technique.
Scientists Preserve the Embryos in Liquid Nitrogen
Although zoologists have collected eggs from the last two Northern White Rhinos, the viable embryos all came from the younger animal. Then scientists preserved the three embryos created from those efforts in liquid nitrogen before transferring them to the intended surrogate.
Neither of the two living Northern White Rhinos can carry a pregnancy.
The expected gestation period could be up to 18 months, so researchers are looking at a target date somewhere in 2022 to see if this idea can save the species. Their goal is to create a herd of about five animals that could eventually be returned to the wild, although that plan could take several decades to complete.
If this work is successful, then the idea could unlock the power to save several more animal species from extinction. Then it is up to us to make sustainable living choices that can support Mother Nature in the future.