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Mouflon

The Mouflon, Ovis musimon, is a species of wild sheep and is part of the family Caprinae (goat antelopes). They originated in Southwest Asia, home to the species known as the “Asiatic mouflon” (Ovis orientalis). Mouflon were introduced to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Rhodes, and Cyprus during the neolithic period, perhaps as feral domesticated animals, where they naturalized to the mountainous interiors of these islands over the past few thousand years, giving rise to the species known as European mouflon (O. musimon or O. ammon).

They are now rare on the islands and classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, however they have been successfully introduced into central Europe, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, and even in some northern European countries such as Finland. They have also been introduced to North America in game ranches for hunting. These breeds are less likely to be pure Mouflon breed.

A mouflon was cloned successfully in early 2001 and lived at least seven months, making it the first clone of an endangered mammal to survive beyond infancy. This demonstrates that a common species (in this case, a domestic sheep) can successfully provide a surrogate for the birth of an exotic animal like the mouflon. If cloning of the mouflon can proceed successfully, it has the potential to expand the species’ gene pool and reduce strain on the number of living specimens.

Mouflon


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