Project X - Mouse

by Kit Young Knotts
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When we lost Neapolitano Pegasus in 2007, after a while I wanted another horse to ride. A nationwide hunt failed to turn up anything I really wanted, since what I really wanted was another Marc, my 30 year old Lipizzan stallion Pluto III Marcella. We embarked on a project to create one.

Newman Equine associate Dr. Adam Eicherberger looked into the equine cloning being done by world leader Dr. Katrin Hinrichs at Texas A&M University on my behalf. We began with collecting and banking Marc's genes. Fascination with actually being able to do this led us to enter into a research agreement with TAMU and a journey that has been the wildest roller-coaster, learning experience, and source of joy and heartache anyone could imagine.

A foal almost made it to term in 2009 in Texas but was still-born. This is the story of Mouse, who lived to three months. A third foal we called Monkey was lost near term in July, 2010. The surrogate mom Missy was with us for several months before the loss. See The Tale of Monkey.

However you might feel about the cloning of animals, I can tell you from personal experience it is a miracle. To see a miniature version of a beloved partner before your eyes and to watch him develop into his own person, based on his own life experiences, is positively amazing! The science is equally fascinating. The research has contributed tremendously to many advances in reproduction, including the human kind.

Mouse was the fifteenth live horse clone foal in the world that can be verified by published scientific data. Others are claimed in the popular press and anecdotally but remain to be proven.

Having never had human children, I now totally understand the extreme anxiety, effects of sleep deprivation, having to make hard decisions, fear that they might be wrong, bliss when they turn out OK, virtual obsession with watching eating, sleeping, elimination, playing, with each event a milestone, that a child brings with him or her. That mine had four legs makes these feelings no less real.

For more information on the cloning of horses, Google Dr. Katrin Hinrichs.


     


Dr. Adam Eicherberger takes
cells from Marc October 2007
at Newman Equine Clinic.


Young Ho Choi, me, Dr. Katrin Hinrichs at Texas A&M
June 2008.


Mouse as a 6 day blastocyst,
June 17, 2009

Just before Christmas, we shipped Mouse's surrogate mom Minnie from Texas to P2. She was pregnant 192 days. Marc eagerly watched her arrival.



The very next day, Dr. Brad Newman checks Mouse by ultrasound


Mouse December 21, 2009

 
Minnie December 22, 2009

We expected a big show from Marc the first time he was turned out next to Minnie. We got a medium show - still not bad. I had to run once, resulting in the tenth image.

The Marc Show Video (18M)
           

   

Christmas Day. Though their stockings are full, Marc only has eyes for Minnie. The Kid only has eyes for Fruit Loops.


January 18. Dr. Kim Moherman checks Minnie after a small colicky episode.

February 26.
Mouse is fine.

 



Dr. Pozor, a student, Dr. Dennis Brooks,
Dr. Amanda House
March 11. We went to the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Hospital in Gainesville to meet the team that will take care of Minnie when she goes up in advance of Mouse's birth. The Reproduction team is headed by Dr. Margo Macpherson and Dr. Malgorzata Pozor, though we met members of the Medical team as well.
 

March 18. Minnie is starting to bag up with milk. With Dr. Newman out of town, I called Dr. Pozor for advice. A change of meds was recommended for Minnie. Dr. Newman came directly from the airport to check Mouse. He is fine. Dr. Newman says
this is his head so does this make it
his first official portrait?


March 26. Minnie's milk is leaking down her legs and Dr. Newman feels she will foal in the next 24 to 48 hours, way too early for Mouse to survive. We get her immediately to Gainesville, where all signs indicate the same. Dr. Dennis Brooks, godfather and uncle to Mouse, drops by for moral support.


March 31. Minnie has taken a few steps back from immediate foaling.

April 7. Minnie has held onto Mouse to reach 300 days gestation. He now has a slight chance for survival.

April 12. Minnie is getting huge. >

 


April 24. Minnie has made a few changes that I want to see for myself. Mouse looks good on ultrasound, though the large size of his umbilical cord is noted.

April 27. We have made it to 320 days. Mouse can be born now.


He's here! > | He's home! >
He's Free (kind of) > | Back in Jail >
     

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