Two black-footed ferret kits have been born at the Smithsonian National Zoo after their mothers were artificially inseminated by decade-old frozen sperm. The kits’ fathers, deceased now for seven and eight years respectively, had provided sperm in 1997 and 1998 as a part of the Smithsonian’s initiative to rescue the black-footed ferret from the doorstep of extinction.
Can I call you…dad?
Because prairie dog populations (black-footed ferrets’ primary source of food) have been depleted by over 98% in the wild, so have the ferrets. In the 1990’s they were presumed extinct until a population of 18 was discovered and removed by the Smithsonian. Now there are over 700 known ferrets, many of which have been returned to the wild. The sperm was extracted and kept at the Black-Footed Ferret Genome Resource Bank at the Smithsonian.
The kits were born in mid-June and according to all reports they are healthy little bundles of fuzz and teeth.
This bodes well for Andrew and me, who in 1994 invested a small fortune in frozen ferret sperm that we bought from a guy we know. It is fantastic to see that it is finally being used to help the black-footed ferret populations, as the Bacardi Raspberry Citrus Ferret Sperm Mojito I have on the bar’s drink menu hasn’t been selling very well.