Doe, a deer, 3 female deer
A&M scientists marvel at trio of healthy fawns
By ARENA WELCH
Eagle Staff Writer
Texas A&M researchers recently bred Dewey, the world's first cloned
white-tailed deer, in hopes of studying whether his large antlers would be
inherited by his offspring.
But even though his triplet fawns were born last Wednesday - giving
researchers three shots at exploration - they're going to have to wait for
the next round.
Born at the Texas A&M Wildlife and Exotic Center, Sandy, Debbie and Gavi are
happy, healthy and a little big for their age, experts said.
And, as each name suggests, they are female.
"We'll have to see what it does in the next generation," said Alice
Blue-McLendon, who oversees their care at the center.
Blue-McLendon said re-searchers weren't disappointed. They will keep
breeding Dewey and eventually study his sons to see if the offspring of a
clone will inherit his large antlers, just like the offspring of a natural
Scientists now have no knowledge about antler inheritance in the offspring
of a clone, the clinical veterinarian said.
Sandy and Debbie each weighed 5 1/2 pounds at birth, while Gavi weighed
about 3 1/4 pounds.
The trio's mother, Heidi, is 10 years old. Dewey was born in May 2003 and is
the only cloned deer at the center. He was cloned using skin tissue from a
slain deer - another first, Blue-McLendon said. The buck whose cells were
used was described as "larger than average," which makes Dewey, his genetic
equal, the ideal source of large antlers.
Since 1999, Texas A&M researchers have cloned six other species not
including Dewey. Second Chance, a bull, was born in August 1999. A
disease-resistant calf named 86 Squared was cloned in November 2000. In
2001, three cloned species were born - a Boer goat named Second Addition in
March, a litter of piglets in August and a cat named cc, short for carbon
copy or copy cat, in December. In March 2005, Paris Texas, the first cloned
horse in North America, was born.
Triplet fawns are rare, and the center never has had a set, Blue-McLendon
said. A doe usually will have only one fawn at a time when she is young, and
she can birth twins several years later, she said.
"It's hard for them to raise three," she said. "That's a lot of little
mouths to feed."
The trio recently was separated from their mother and are being
"hand-raised," meaning they are fed and handled by humans, so they will be
tamer and able to handle life at the center around people, Blue-McLendon
"They're still wild animals, but they're much better suited for captivity,"
Texas A&M students assist the center's staff in feeding and caring for the
fawns, Blue-McLendon said.
"They're excellent teaching tools for students who are learning to care for
baby livestock," Blue-McLendon said, adding that many students who work at
the center want to be veterinarians and zookeepers.
The triplets will remain at the center for life, Blue-McLendon said. In the
future, the fawns likely will be studied in reproductive research, she said.
"When they're this young, we don't really know exactly what kind of research
projects they'll be used for," she said.
. Arena Welch's e-mail address is arena.welch@ theeagle.com.
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