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.
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.
Researching the Great Salt Lake involves identifying and documenting what lives in the lake through genetic sequencing, and how these microbes survive in extreme environments.
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.