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Wild black-footed cat: Test-tube kitten born in US

This photo provided by Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species shows a eight month old kitten named Crystal. A fierce, tiny kitten is proof that black-footed cat embryos can be successfully implanted into housecats and that there are still kinks to be worked out in cloning the southern African species. Crystal is a test-tube kitten, her embryo created by in vitro fertilization and implanted into the womb of a domestic cat which gave birth Feb. 6 at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species. She's also among fewer than 80 black-footed cats in zoos and collections such as ACRES. This photo provided by Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species shows a eight month old kitten named Crystal. A fierce, tiny kitten is proof that black-footed cat embryos can be successfully implanted into housecats and that there are still kinks to be worked out in cloning the southern African species. Crystal is a test-tube kitten, her embryo created by in vitro fertilization and implanted into the womb of a domestic cat which gave birth Feb. 6 at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species. She's also among fewer than 80 black-footed cats in zoos and collections such as ACRES. (AP Photo/Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species)
By Janet Mcconnaughey
Associated Press / March 13, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS—Several endangered black-footed cats have been born recently in the U.S. and researchers say Crystal's birth is the rarest -- the first ever born from an embryo fertilized in a lab dish, frozen, and later implanted in a housecat's womb.

The black-footed cat is Africa's smallest wildcat and one of the world's smallest felines -- smaller even than a domestic cat.

Earle Pope, interim director of the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, says Crystal was born Feb. 6 at the New Orleans complex. He says Crystal is proof that embryos of this dwindling species can be successfully implanted into domestic cats.

Only an estimated 10,000 of these cats, which get their name from their distinctive black foot pads, still live in the wild in southern Africa.

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