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Bellatrix's avatar

What is your opinion on cloning to reproduce endangered species and why?

Asked by Bellatrix (21146 points ) October 23rd, 2011

I am watching a documentary about the work of an American scientist who is cloning endangered animals and using non-endangered animals as surrogates to carry the cloned cells. Should we use this technology to increase the numbers of endangered species? What about bringing back extinct animals? Do you want to see the Woolly Mammoth walking around the earth again? What about cloning Bengal Tigers to ensure they continue to exist? What are your thoughts about cloning for these reasons?

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18 Answers

Anatelostaxus's avatar

I think It’s probably like catching and restoring falling tiles to a roof while the house is crumbling.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

There’s a lot of work to be done for the Planet’s health.
Keeping endangered animals from going extinct, within a sick ambient..
I think it’s too artificial to be accepted into the holistic balance of Nature, like our very estence here has become.

BUT, If I personally had the chance to choose to do so, I would. but secretly

lillycoyote's avatar

I guess I think that cloning to preserve existing species, perhaps and particularly species the were becoming extinct because of us would be o.k. but I’m not sure that resurrecting long extinct species through cloning would be a very good idea; or right.

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Anatelostaxus's avatar

@lillycoyote same thought occurred here as well, but.. the environment is changing. they are becoming extinct also because of that (spreading urban centres, expanding human territory in general, pollution, climate change).. so.. hmmm.
But then again they could (perhaps) adapt ..
dilemma. We’ll see

lillycoyote's avatar

@Anatelostaxus Yes, dilemma dilemma, dilemma, warp core breach in 30 seconds, what do you do? When do you let nature take it’s course and how do you determine whether or not it is nature taking it’s course?

gr8teful's avatar

Dolly the sheep was cloned and had lots of genetic deficiences and did not survive long. Do everything to preserve rare species as they are but once a species has gone in its natural form, it’s gone, however sad this is.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve got no problem with it however as has been pointed out the reason for their decline in the first place has to be considered. If a species habitat has been wiped out, bringing them back just to sit around in a zoo or for study seems a waste. But if they can be brought back to the point of a fully protected, wild, self-sustaining, growth-population, go for it.

Of course that opinion not only assumes a holistic approach to reintroducing these animals but the scientific know-how to carry out the work consistently with predictively positive results. Oh and let’s not forget the undoubted vast legal wrangling that will come hand in hand with it. All in all, I’d suggest we’ve a good ways to go before any of us should start buying tickets to Disney’s Woolly Mammoth Park Siberia, but I’m for it (sans the Disney part).

marinelife's avatar

Cloning technology is not perfected. The animals would not be “right”.

digitalimpression's avatar

“But John, if the Pirates Of The Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

“The lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here uh, staggers me.”

“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility… for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it. You want to sell it!”

“What is so great about discovery? It is a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.”

“No hold on, this is not some species that was obliterated by deforestation, or the building of a dam. Dinosaurs, uh, had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction!”

gorillapaws's avatar

I think we should be sampling and sequencing the DNA of these species for future use. Releasing large quantities of genetically identical individuals might have really dire consequences on the existing gene pool and hurt the species chances more than it helps. Just look at the damage that overbreeding Dalmatians (back when Disney originally released 101 Dalmations) has done to the breed.

In the future, geneticists may be able to prevent some of these problems, and engage in more sophisticated re-populating solutions than what current technology allows today.

flutherother's avatar

Sadly, I don’t think there is much point in re introducing species to a world that has already made them extinct. I would be in favour of storing the DNA for research purposes and possibly, in a better world, the archive could become the Noah’s ark of the future.

gasman's avatar

Let’s assume for the moment that cloning technology is perfected and any animal’s numbers can be increased. Unfortunately it’s not enough to maintain the health of an endangered species, because there would still be a lack of genetic diversity in the population. This is already the case with the cheetah. Cloning cannot deepen the gene pool the way breeding in the wild does.

MissAnthrope's avatar

What @gasman said. Hypothetically, were cloning a perfected science, it could be a decent band-aid, but that’s best-case scenario. Generally, a lack of genetic diversity in a species is a liability. If there are no catastrophic events, then most likely, eventually, there would naturally be an increase in diversity.

If there is a catastrophic event, the closer the individuals are genetically, the more of a chance that they will all be affected. There’s also the issue of inbreeding causing physiological issues, when you have individuals that are too similar, genetically.

tedd's avatar

There is one gigantic flaw with the idea of cloning extinct or nearly extinct animals from their DNA.

For a species to continue existing it needs a certain size genetic pool to draw from. If the pool is reduced too greatly, the population will become inbred, and riddled with genetic errors (think what happens if you married your cousin and everyone in your town did as well).

If you’re cloning the animal you only have one set of the species DNA. Nowhere near the diversity you need to successfully breed it back to existence. In fact a lack of diversity is why a lot of scientists think some species will become extinct despite having thousands of individuals in their population (see the Tiger).

The only way around this that has been proposed so far is to mix the DNA with that of a living relative. The Woolly Mammoth efforts are now focused on mixing the DNA we have with that of a modern elephant. The result would be a half elephant half mammoth, clearly not a mammoth. But by doing this multiple times you would introduce genetic diversity to the population thanks to the elephant DNA. Unfortunately this means you will also never really achieve a pure mammoth.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

well, I was thinking about endangered species earlier today and i’m sure that someone will have something to say about this but ill say it anyways… are we not impeding natural evolution when we start repopulating endangered species? survival of the fittest no?
cloning is cool but i’m not for it

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