Brazil plans to clone endangered species

Nov. 12, 2012 at 9:06 PM
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BRASILIA, Brazil, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Brazil says it will try cloning eight animal species that are under pressure, keeping them in captivity as a reserve in case wild populations collapse.

Brazil's agricultural research agency, Embrapa, working with the Brasilia Zoological Garden, has collected around 420 tissue samples, mostly from carcasses, to prepare for a cloning program, reported.

International conservation groups say they approve of the plans although the priority should always be to preserve species in the wild by minimizing hunting and maintaining habitats.

"While cloning is a tool of last resort, it may prove valuable for some species," Ian Harrison of the Biodiversity Assessment Unit at Conservation International in Arlington, Va., said. "Experimenting with it now, using species that are not at immediate risk of extinction, is important."

The eight species under consideration, including jaguars and maned wolves, live in the Cerrado, a tropical savannah.

Embrapa hopes to begin cloning the maned wolf, of which only 13,000 remain across South America, within a month.

The researchers say they also hope to hope to clone black lion tamarins, bush dogs, coatis, collared anteaters, gray brocket deer and bison.

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