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Miller

Sarah C Miller
Writing 1010
Professor Erin Rogers
10/23/15
Clone and Release
One of the biggest problems the human race faces in the 21st century is mass extinction of
several species around the world. This current mass extinction, however, is caused both directly
and indirectly by the human species; various forms of hunting and deforestation have negatively
affected the populations of the Earths wildlife. Zoos, Conservations, Sanctuaries and Preserves
all do their part to encourage breeding of animals and their reintroduction into the wild but what
if could take it a step further. As new technology has advanced new doors have opened in every
field of study especially in the sciences; from basic recording to diagrams and simulations.
Technology has let genetics take a huge leap forward, from basic selective breeding to genetic
modification and creation of identical cloning which can further aid our conservation efforts as it
has already helped our cattle, crops and pets. By using the cloning process, scientists can provide
a cushion for endangered species and begin releasing the animals that will reestablish their
population in the wild and have a healthy captive population that will enable a healthy gene pool
for generations to come.
Endangered Animals
Endangered animals can prove very difficult to breed because there are very few
individuals to populate even in captivity. African elephants are one example of this, partly due to

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their herd structure; their largest herds are predominantly female with young elephants while
most males travel in small pods or alone. Captive elephants are mostly female as they are less
likely to attack or rough-house with each other (Elephants Forever). They arent the only animals
that have a more peaceable gender over the other; unrelated male lions are likely to kill each
other and their rivals young cubs. This is natural for most species, the competition for mates in
the wild and sometimes in captivity. Conservation centers worldwide try to encourage
endangered animals to repopulate and often keep a Studbook- a studbook is a computerized
database of all animals in the captive population detailing information on dates of births and
deaths, gender, parentage, locations, and local identification numbers of animals, to prevent
inbreeding which can lead to severe disfigurement and poor health (Smithsonian). These careful
breeding efforts encourage a healthy population in captivity so some of them may be released
back into the wild. But these efforts can be taken a step further by, in a sense, replacing the
captive population. With artificial cloning we can take identical individuals and let them be
raised by already captive animals before they reach adulthood. Animals originally brought in
from their native habitat can be returned, if their habitat is still there, and if they can be properly
reintroduced. A prime example of successful cloning was that of a rare species of wild cattle
called the Bateng was successfully cloned at San Diego Wild Animal park as part of a program
dubbed the Frozen Zoo which hopes to produce cloned animals that can produce offspring, that
will give hope to other researchers who want to use cloning to preserve animals as diverse as the
panda and the wild cat so zoos can benefit from existing herds but also release them into the
wild (BBC). This is a hesitant first step towards restocking the endangered populations but a
promising start to further conservation programs with different genetic partners. It also offers a

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new view of having the cloned animals be thriving organisms and offer new life just like the one
given to them.
Genetics
Cloning is a difficult challenge as it depends primarily on a surrogate to carry the cloned
animal to term and give birth to it. There are there problems that include the actual survival of
the egg cell, stem cell and the actual merge of both cells and the animals growth. Even with
surrogates that produce eggs like birds and reptiles, the embryo has to keep stimulating cell
division for many generationsbefore the embryo will develop on its own without assistance
which has to be done in any cloning project to keep embryo viable (Novak). While the beginning
steps of cloning are difficult the results are always a new individual, identical that of natural
conception. Animals can be cloned from one individual and some have even been improved.
genetic modification has been in play in the human history for centuries with selective breeding
and now people can activate desirable genes to improve the quality of food, milk, or make the
animals disease resistant but not all of genetic research is for human benefit but for the animals
themselves such as repopulation (Fiester). While a slow and expensive process cloning can bring
ways to improve genes to better resist disease and elongate their life span of endangered species
and provide better individuals for future generations of species to reproduce as it already has for
cattle and other domestic animals. There is a project in Tasmania, Australia which hopes to use
cloning to bring back an extinct animal called the Thylacine, or better known as the Tasmanian
tiger, which died out largely due to excessive hunting by humans and it was finally declared
extinct in 1936 (Dayton). This is an ambitious project that proves to be quite similar to the idea
of Jurassic Park without the parading of extinct animals for profit. This was a venture more for
the benefit of the animal than the people.

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Slow and steady can win the race


Cloning can be a slow, expensive and futile venture. Success rates are half, if not less of
all cloned animals. Some fail as embryos and some, tragically, die in infancy. There are still
some successful clones that have thrived well in their lives such as a cloned cat nicknamed
CopyCat or CC. Endangered animals are expensive to find, own and manage in zoos but often
result in the most popular exhibit giving them publicity and donations that support the
Endangered Species Act which has boosted the recovery of endangered species by 90% since it
was enacted (On Time, On Target). While this calls for celebration, there are still problems with
the humans encroaching on natural habitats and game hunting. Elephants, rhinos, tigers and the
lesser known Oryx and Sable Antelope are hunted for their tusks, pelts and horns because they
look beautiful and they are strongly connected to old traditions; any animal off a preserve or
even on a preserve is usually targeted. So while captive breeding and wild releases help the
populations, there is still an overwhelming force working against endangered animals. While
cloning is still some way from being perfected, it can still provide a cushion for those species
who still struggle against deforestation and game hunting.
Race against Extinction
Cloning is a long, complicated and potentially futile endeavor in the short term but can
benefit the species as a cushion and advancement long term. Humans have cloned cattle animals
for self-benefit and improved the genes to get more and better quality food and clothing and to
make them disease resistant. While the process of cloning still has a long ways away from being
perfect, it still produces the result of a natural animal that has a chance to live and thrive and pass
along their own genes, an irreplaceable life that contributes to further the survival of the species.

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It will be a long journey before animals can recover from their loss of habitat and diminished
numbers but every little step counts and every program can improve the outcome of endangered
species.

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Works Cited:
BBC. "Endangered Animal Clone Produced." 9 April 2003.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2932225.stm. News Article. 3 11
2015.
Elephants Forever. Elephant Family Structure - General. n.d. Website page. 7 11 15.
Fiester, Autumn. "Ethical Issues in Animal Cloning." 1 June 2005.
http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?
article=1034&context=bioethics_papers. Web page document. 5 11 2015.
Novak, Ben. "Why Birds are a Challenge." 10 12 2013.
http://longnow.org/revive/why-birds-are-a-challenge/. Webpage article. 8 11
2015.
"On Time, On Target." n.d. http://www.esasuccess.org/. Webpage document. 11 3
15.
Smithsonian. "Captive Breeding." n.d.
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/endangeredspecies/capbreedpops/default.cfm.
Webpage article. 08 11 15.