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Brazil zoo to clone endangered species

Good idea?  More to the point - ethical idea?

Jaguars and monkeys to be cloned in Brazil

Scientists in Brazil are to clone wild animals, including the jaguar and breeds of monkey, wolf and deer, to try to save them from extinction.

Experts at Brasilia Zoo, who have already successfully cloned cows and horses, are hoping to start creating their first copy of a wild animal next month.

The eight at-risk species chosen are the jaguar, the maned wolf, the black lion tamarin monkey, the bush dog, the collared anteater, the gray brocket deer, the Brazilian aardvark and the bison.

Most are on the red list of threatened species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

If it succeeds, the project is expected to be one of the first to produce a clone of a big cat. There are around 15,000 jaguars left in its natural habitat of North and South America, according to conservation experts.

Researchers have spent the last two years painstakingly gathering more than 400 genetic samples of the species from dead animals they found in the Brazilian outback.

Now the scientists, backed by EMBRAPA, Brazil's state agricultural research agency, say they are almost ready to proceed.

“We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” researcher Carlos Frederico Martins said.

He said the next stage would be to train researchers in the differences between cloning wild animals compared to cows and horses, of which the country already has more than 100 living clones.

Mr Martins would not be drawn on how long it would take to produce the first clone – the procedure has a five to seven percent success rate – but said it was likely to be a maned wolf.

The cloned animals are not intended to be released into the wild unless a species was at risk of total extinction, according to the zoo's head of research.

“If a certain species was in a state of drastic decline, at risk of total extinction, and it was possible to provide reinforcement, we will have the capacity,” Juciara Pelles said in a statement from the United Nations-funded Tierramérica project.

“We are still in the phase of developing the technology, so we still don’t know if it will be possible to rescue a population in the wild, but we could potentially make it viable again,” she added.

The zoo is currently waiting for legal approval for the next phase of the project, but is hoping to begin the initial steps towards the first clone in about a month, she added.

The first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell was Dolly the sheep, who was born at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh in 1996 after a breakthrough that shed light on the biology of cells.

Scientists in the US and South Korea are also working on cloning wild animals.

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 9:34 PM on Nov. 15, 2012 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • I am not a huge fan of 'playing God' in the manner of cloning... I am however a huge fan of animal conservation and breeding programs. I feel that in many cases the breeding programs are successful and cloning would be unnecessary. I mean I guess it would speed up the process... but then you have the problem of keeping track of the cloned animals with in the breeding programs already complicated 'stud book' ... I just don't know... I have mixed feelings...

    Answer by But_Mommie at 9:45 PM on Nov. 15, 2012

  • I agree with But Mommie. I wonder what genetic disorders arise from cloning? And my worry, if we clone animals, are humans the next obvious thing? Yikes...that could go very badly...

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 10:20 PM on Nov. 15, 2012

  • I wonder what genetic disorders arise from cloning?

    I wonder that, and also at the basic fact that so far, cloned animals don't seem to live as long as their natural counterparts. Are they being needlessly put through extra or early pain just so we can say look at the pretty animal we have in the zoo?

    Millions of species have become extinct. They are replaced by adaptations. It's worked that way for millions of years. Fighting it is like saving individual grains of sand on the beach when the tide comes in.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 10:25 PM on Nov. 15, 2012

  • Sure! What could go wrong?

    Answer by QuinnMae at 11:19 PM on Nov. 15, 2012

  • I sicerely hope they do not succeed.

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:32 PM on Nov. 15, 2012

  • "I sicerely hope they do not succeed...."Dardenella
    There already has been lots of animals that have been cloned. Cats, cows, ferrets, dogs, fish (carp) and many others, even fruit flies!!!

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 1:33 AM on Nov. 16, 2012

  • I think Darwin was on to something....we ought not mess with survival of the fittest. It is the universal plan...
    Can you imagine a world with a T-Rex? "Watch out honey, there's a T-Rex to your left!" No really, I want the pandas and tigers to live who knows...

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 1:36 AM on Nov. 16, 2012

  • how many of you keep bringing up natural selection but in the case of most endangered species is not it is not fit survive in this world. the problem is humans making mistakes and ruining their natural environment. many steps have been takin to correct some of our past mistakes and recreate, reinvent for salvage the natural environment of many animals. conservation efforts are not limited to breeding and putting them in zoos. the ultimate goal of any survival plan is to reintroduce endangered species back into the natural en for them to reproduce and thrive on their own. I can see how cloning could help or hurt this effort. a lot of work goes into the breeding programs to insure sitting here breeding ideal examples of the species without inbreeding for creating flaws in the species. I don't think man is attempting change the environment. they are attempting to restore it. Imo anyway.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 6:41 AM on Nov. 16, 2012

  • Mixed feelings. Started out not caring if they clone or not. Then thought the money and science could be better used elsewhere. Then thought we need to let species go extinct if they aren't surviving naturally. But then if it is our fault?

    In conclusion. I don't know.

    Answer by staciandababy at 8:27 AM on Nov. 16, 2012

  • Yes this is true that they have succeeded with domesticated animal. But wild animals are not quite te same.
    I agree with NotPanicking.

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:52 PM on Nov. 16, 2012

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