The last two northern white rhinos remaining worldwide – Fatu and Naydin – are female and live in the Ol Pejeta Conservation in Kenya. The last man, Sudan, died last year, raising fears that the subspecies is on the verge of extinction, especially since the two women cannot bear pregnancy.
The embryos were created with eggs extracted from Fatu and Nine by international scientists last month and frozen sperm from dead men. The two embryos were viable and are now stored in liquid nitrogen and are awaiting transfer to a surrogate mother in the near future, according to a statement from Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Embryos are only one part of a long journey to stop the rapid descent of the northern white rhino to extinction.
Nayden and Fatu are unable to carry the pregnancy themselves, so the embryos are likely to be transferred to a female southern white rhino who would act as a surrogate. "
The process was years in the making
Ol Pejeta Conservation was acquired in 2009 by a zoo in the Czech Republic of the northern white rhinoceros and two females. Both male northern white rhinos die, leaving the fate of the subspecies on female rhinos.
Sudan died of natural causes in March last year, and another man died in 2014. The semen of both males is cryogenically frozen in the hope that the technology will advance enough to use it in reproduction.
Years later, this happened. The collected eggs were transported from Kenya to Italy, where scientists at the Avantea lab fertilize eggs in vitro with sperm from dead males. Race Against Time
With only two others in the world, there's a race against the weather to try to maintain the northern white rhino.
Kristina Zdanovic of CNN contributed to this report.