Dubai: The birth of identical twin camel calves was announced in Dubai on Tuesday.
Zahi and Bahi, born on February 10 and February 26 respectively, both experienced a natural birth following a 13-month gestation.
Dr Lulu Skidmore and her team at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai said the male twins were created using a technique called embryo micro-manipulation.
The process involved flushing a six-day old camel embryo from the uterus of the donor camel and splitting it into two halves.
Care was taken to ensure the tiny inner cell mass part of the embryo [the part that develops into the foetus] was actually split into equal halves otherwise only one foetus would have developed.
Both halves were then cultured for two hours and transferred into two separate surrogate mother camels. The surrogate mothers were synchronised with the donor mother to ensure they were at the same stage in their reproductive cycles.
Dr Lulu Skidmore, Scientific Director at the Camel Reproduction Centre, told Gulf News the technique may be used to produce identical twin animals that could act as perfect partners in future studies. She said: “Because the camels are genetically identical, any difference between them is a direct result of the treatment they receive.
“For example, you could give one twin a different type of food … and see which one grows quicker or runs faster. Alternatively you could give them both to different trainers and test them out to see which trainer has the best training technique.”
Dr Skidmore said camel owners and trainers would be interested in learning more about the micro-manipulation technique.
She added: “The Molecular Biology and Genetics Laboratory in Dubai has studied the camels and confirmed them to be genetically identical.”