In an effort to ease some of the pressure on endangered wild animals, scientists in Brazil are aiming to clone eight endangered species.
The Brasilia Zoological Garden is working with Embrapa, Brazil’s agricultural research agency, to collect tissue samples from animals that live in the tropical savanna of Cerrado. The team has already collected 420 tissue samples from maned wolves, black lion tamarins, coatis, bush dogs, gray broket deer, collared anteaters, and bison. The next step is to obtain government permission to conduct cloning experiments.
There are no plans to release the cloned animals into the wild. “The cloning is specifically for zoos,” said Carlos Frederico Martins of Embrapa. “The idea is to test cloning technology so the zoo has its own repository of animals, which will avoid the need to take species from their natural habitat.”
Conservation groups mostly support the project because preserving valuable DNA information is crucial in endangered species, but have also noted that before anything, preserving the natural habitats of these species should be the top priority. Captive breeding is a step in the right direction, possibly, but not nearly as important as making sure all species have a safe, healthy place to live and thrive before unsustainable development and pollution destroy them.
What are your thoughts on cloning and the captive breeding of endangered species?
Image from Wikimedia Commons: Black lion tamarin at São Paulo Zoo.