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Scientists Create Two Northern White Rhino Embryos

FILE - The last two known female northern white rhinos are fed carrots by a ranger in their enclosure at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019.

Scientists have created two embryos of the nearly extinct northern white rhino, part of an effort to pull the species back from the brink.

"Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino,'' said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

The institute is part of a team of international scientists and conservationists racing to save the rare giants.

The eggs were harvested from the last two living females. They were injected with the frozen sperm of dead males.

The embryos will be transferred into a surrogate mother, a southern white rhino.

The conservationists hope to create a herd of at least five animals that can be introduced back into the wild in Africa.

The last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died last year at age 45. He gained international fame in 2017 when he was named the "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World'' on the Tinder dating app as part of fundraising effort.

"Five years ago, it seemed like the production of a northern white rhino embryo was almost an unachievable goal, and today we have them," said Jan Stejskal, director of communication at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where the last two surviving females were born.