On January 14th 2002, a horse gave birth to a rare breed of donkey. No joke.

Two Poitou donkey breeders (or more so, the only Poitou donkey breeders) in Australia contacted Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, hoping that they would be able to assist with the reproduction of the endangered breed. Their female donkey was suffering a leg injury, which may have prevented her from carrying her foal full-term.

Scientists used artificial insemination to create an embryo. Using the sperm from male donkey Nuray, they fertilised the female donkey, named Fifi. After seven days the embryo was transferred to a standard-bred mare. The pregnancy went well, and this is the first time an endangered breed of equine has been successfully bred in a surrogate mother.

This reminds me of talk from a few years ago about using dogs to carry cloned pandas, as the pregnancies of pandas do not have high success rates. Dogs were to be used as they have a similar gestation period and milk in relation to pandas. These advances in biology are more amazing each year, and it will be interesting to see how more advanced our knowledge in the area will be in a few years.

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