The Italian Almanac

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horses

Pregnant Clone

The world's first cloned horse is pregnant, Italian animal-cloning pioneer Cesare Gallo said. Galli said the pregnancy showed that cloned animals were just as healthy as normal ones. Cats, cows, bulls and mules have been among the animals cloned since the mother of them all, Dolly the sheep, was unveiled to acclaim and controversy in 1996.

Aside from ethical issues, opponents of cloning have raised concerns that some animals might have reduced quality of life. It is claimed by some that Dolly aged quickly, dying in 2003 at the age of six and a half. Galli, who produced Prometea in 2003, pooh-poohed these arguments. ''Prometea will be the first cloned horse to give birth, around the beginning of April. This is further confirmation that clones are completely normal if they are reared healthily,'' he said at his reproduction technology farm near Cremona.

He added that a cloned stallion called Pieraz, created in 2005, was also expecting his first offspring. After Galli's pioneering work on horses in Italy, most of the world's horse cloning has moved to Texas. So far about ten horses have been cloned, including Prometea and Pieraz.