off and running, those UI clones
by Bill Loftus
Also see 2006 racing schedule / race videos
Launching a colorful new chapter in their careers, Idaho Gem and Idaho Star, Project Idaho’s two racing mule clones, proved they could hold their own out of the gate in qualifying races on June 2 at Winnemucca, Nevada. Gem placed third and Star seventh in the June 3 main mule race.
Preliminary plans call for the clones to follow the mule racing circuit to California fairs in Stockton, Pleasanton, Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Ferndale, Pomona, and Fresno. Track the clones’ schedule at our online magazine.
The race was the world’s first appearance by a cloned animal in professional athletic competition. It drew international attention to the UI. The Associated Press, CBS News, BBC, and the London Sunday Telegraph covered the races. Media around the world reported the story.
“Winning the races is a thrill, but our most important goal is to improve human health,” said a proud Gordon Woods, UI CALS professor of animal and veterinary science and cloning project lead. Horses and other equines have significantly lower cancer rates than do humans.
Woods and his Project Idaho colleagues Dirk Vanderwall from the UI and Ken White, Utah State, hope cloning will illuminate the difference and provide research clues, particularly into calcium’s role in diseases. Don Jacklin of Post Falls, UI alum, helped fund UI’s Project Idaho.