Cremona, Aug 26 (AP/UNB) — Eggs removed from the last two female northern white rhinos have been fertilized with sperm from the now-dead last male, but it will be about 10 days before it's known whether the eggs have become embryos, an Italian assisted-breeding company said Monday.
"We expect some of them will develop into an embryo," Cesare Galli, a founder of Avantea and an expert in animal cloning, said.
Avantea said that only seven of 10 eggs extracted last week from the females in Kenya could be used in the fertilization attempts Sunday using frozen sperm that had been taken from the male, which died in March 2018.
Wildlife experts and veterinarians are hoping that the species can reproduce via a surrogate mother rhino.
The Associated Press was granted exclusive access to the laboratory to film the procedure being carried out on Sunday.
Galli, a founder of the company, said that to improve chances for a species' continuation, it is better not to "get to the last two individuals before you use this technology."
The male, a 45-year-year-old named Sudan, gained fame in 2017 with his listing as "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World" on the Tinder dating app in a fundraising effort. Sudan was euthanized after age-related complications.
Decades of poaching decimated the northern white rhino's numbers.
The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habit in Africa. That could take decades.
Sudan was the last of his kind to be born in the wild, in the country he was named after.
Other rhinos — the southern white rhino and the black rhino — are also prey for poachers, who kill them for their horns to supply illegal markets in parts of Asia.
Moscow, Aug 24 (AP/UNB) — A Russian space capsule carrying a humanoid robot has failed to dock as planned with the International Space Station.
A statement from the Russian space agency Roscosmos said the failure to dock on Saturday was because of problems in the docking system. It said the space station itself and the six-person crew are safe.
Vladimir Solovyev, flight director for the Russian segment of the ISS, said a new docking attempt would be made Monday.
The capsule was launched Thursday as part of tests of a new rocket that is expected to replace the Soyuz-FG next year.
It is carrying a robot called Fedor, which will perform two weeks of tests aboard the space station. Solovyev said the robot had not been taught how to manually conduct a docking.
Cape Canaveral, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — Spacewalking astronauts added another parking spot to the International Space Station on Wednesday.
NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan successfully installed a docking port delivered by SpaceX last month. It will be used by SpaceX and Boeing once they start launching astronauts to the orbiting lab late this year or early next year.
The two had to wrestle with old, stiff cables in order to get power and data flowing to the port. They also attached reflectors for navigation.
"Really well done ... You gave us a brand new docking port for our next-generation spacecraft," Mission Control radioed as the 6 ½-hour spacewalk ended.
This is the station's second docking port for commercial crew capsules. The first was attached three years ago. The newest port was a replacement for one that was destroyed during a SpaceX launch accident in 2015.
Ever since its space shuttles retired in 2011, NASA has been limited to Russian rockets for getting astronauts to the space station. While U.S. companies have been delivering supplies since 2012, crew flights from Cape Canaveral remain on hold.
SpaceX launched its first crew Dragon capsule with no one aboard in March. The capsule was destroyed the following month during an engine test in Florida. Despite the setback, SpaceX still aims to squeeze in its first test flight with astronauts by year's end.
Boeing intends to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew this fall, followed by a test flight with a crew sometime early next year.
It was the third spacewalk for Hague and the first for Morgan, an Army doctor who moved into the station a month ago.
"Docs rock," Mission Control radioed to Morgan as the work got underway.
Hague's mother delivered homemade goodies to Houston flight controllers midway through spacewalk.
"I heard she was busy in the kitchen yesterday," Hague said. "I hope everyone enjoys it. I'm jealous."
"Well," replied Mission Control, "we have a certain jealousy of what you guys are doing as well, so I'd say it's an even trade."