Putting an end to extinction


Courtesy of Creative Commons

The endangered black footed ferret in the wild, living peacefully.

To many, the mere mention of the word clone references science fiction, but that is no longer the case. Scientific advancements have recently come to light concerning the cloning of animals. The endangered black footed ferret was believed to be extinct until 18 were discovered on a ranch in Wyoming. Scientists have accessed the information, and are implementing cloning technologies. They have successfully produced a clone of a black footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann, using 33 year old DNA.

Elizabeth Ann, is a true pioneer as she is the first endangered American species to undergo cloning. Although, there are many naysayers, scientists believe this could further the end of extinction. Ryan Phelan, executive director of conservation organization Revive & Restore told CNN, “it was a commitment to seeing this species survive that has led to the successful birth of Elizabeth Ann.”

Cloning is a process which takes incredible amounts of trial and error to complete successfully. Elizabeth Ann was born from a surrogate mother from the frozen cells of Willa, a black footed ferret who died 33 years prior. Due to their incredibly low population numbers, 120 of the black footed ferrets have been vaccinated from COVID-19. Elizabeth Ann will be held in captivity and studied in hopes for more successes in cloning black footed ferrets.

Although scientists are over the moon with the recent cloning advancements, others are cautious. Science teacher, Everett Evansky shared his opinion on the subject. “Cloning is an example of technology that is very complex. I can see many beneficial uses coming from it, especially, in terms of medicine. However, when thinking about cloning in terms of humans, there are many ethical issues to consider,” Evansky stated.

There are still many questions left unanswered regarding cloning, which leaves many to wonder about what that means for the future of not just animals, but humans as well. Cloning for humans looks to be far away in the future, for scientists foresee many genetic malformations and decreased lifespans resulting from it.

Although the cloning of humans seems to be unethical for this day-in-age, the cloning of endangered species is cause for much celebration. Zoology and biology teacher, Richard Ferro states, “I believe it’s great technology to be able to bring back organisms and increase the diversity of species.”

Elizabeth Ann is merely one of many scientific advancements in cloning technologies to come. This discovery is one that will further the conservation for endangered animals in a way that can be eliminated instead of controlled, as opposed to over hunting and fishing mandates. The ability to make genetic copies of endangered species could eliminate the extinction of many species all together. As the cloning of these animals continues to prosper, it would be beneficial to remain weary, as the technology is still very new.