The first cloned mule, Idaho Gem, was born May 4, 2003. It was the first clone of a hybrid animal. A mule results from a cross between a female horse, a mare, and a male donkey, a jack. As hybrids, mules are sterile, except in extremely rare cases. The UI-Utah State team became the first to succeed among several worldwide attempting to clone a member of the horse family.
Idaho Gem's DNA came from cells from a champion racing mule. A team of researchers at the University of Idahoâ€™s Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory began work on the cloning project in 1998. USU Professor Ken White and members of his laboratory team joined the effort and were involved in developing new procedures that created viable embryos that were transferred into mares, and resulted in pregnancies that produced Idaho Gem and his identical siblings. Read more about Idaho Gem and the research team at https://tinyurl.com/muleclones.
The second cloned mule, Utah Pioneer, was born June 9, 2003. The foal, named for the hearty pioneers who crossed the Rockies and settled in Utah, weighed 78 pounds at birth, and was healthy and very active.
The third cloned mule, Idaho Star, was born July 27, 2003. His name was chosen by Idaho grade school students. The success of this collaboration between University of Idaho and USU’s Cloning lab may lessen the doubts of some about the viability of equine clones.