Cloning Extinct Animals
Cloning is the process of creating a true copy of an organism. It is a very difficult task, and many different types of cloning techniques are being applied to achieve success. Geneticists have made a breakthrough by creating cloned sheep, horses, cats, and dogs.
However, the issue of cloning has created a lot of controversy. Each breakthrough in cloning research has generated interesting controversies. It can even lead to human cloning, and the situation would be worse if it becomes a tool in the hands of unscrupulous people. The important question, "Should we interfere with nature?" is being debated heatedly worldwide.
How to clone an extinct animal?
It is possible to clone an animal by using genetic material received from a recently extinct animal species. The species should not have been dead for more than five days, or if longer, the species must have been preserved by immediately freezing after death to preserve its cellular integrity.
Firstly, obtain a sample of DNA from the extinct animal cell's nucleus, which is to be reassembled using the genome of a related living animal as a guide. Thereafter, remove the ovarian eggs of the related living animal, and implant the extracted DNA into it. Now, fuse the nuclei with the eggs, and treat them with electric current or chemicals. This will start cell-division. After the embryos have grown to 200 cells, implant them into the womb of the related animal for gestation. The surrogate mother will deliver a baby of the extinct species.
The scientists are hopeful that the survival skills of new-born baby animal will be coded into its genes. However, "Dolly", the first cloned sheep, suffered from several weaknesses, including arthritis. It could not live for long after birth.
In the same way, scientists tried to bring back a rare Asian Ox, the Gaur, by infusing a regular Cow's egg with the genes of a living Gaur. The Gaur calf suffered the same fate as all other cloned animals, and could not survive for long after birth.
If the technology used for cloning had been successful, it could have been useful in repopulating the extinct species. However, a close examination of the immune system and its adaptability will give a better understanding of why genetically identical clones are always inferior to the original ones.
Nowadays, scientists have initiated steps to collect and preserve the tissue from the endangered animals. This could be further used in making their clones, once the technology improves. Moreover, a number of so-called frozen zoos have installed cryogenic facilities to store the tissue, eggs, and sperm from endangered species. Two such zoos are the frozen zoo at the San Diego Zoo, and the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species.
The cloning of extinct animals is not without its dangers. It could bring back the unwanted diseases and parasites, which could endanger the existence of the modern species.
Therefore, cloning extinct animals is still a premature idea. Without an effective regulation, it can open the floodgates of problems for the existing species.