Brazilian scientists have announced that they are moving ahead with plans to clone a number of endangered species, a list of animals that includes the jaguar, maned wolf, and black lion. The groundbreaking initiative is being conducted by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA. The researchers claim that they’re not looking to repopulate habitats, but to increase the number of captive specimens available. But in the event of extreme cases, they admit that they’re prepared to release these cloned animals into the wild.
Researchers at the Brasilia Zoological Garden have selected eight animals for the initiative, most of which are on the the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The genetic material required to clone these animals were collected over the course of the past two years, including the genomes of the bush dog, coati, collared anteater, gray brocket deer, and bison. The genomes were harvested primarily from dead animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil. The researchers say they have already collected 420 samples which are currently being stored in their gene banks.
Now that this initial phase is complete, the next step will be to train the researchers at the zoo.
These animals will not be the first ones to be cloned by EMBRAPA; the government agency was responsible for the birth of a cloned cow in 2001. Since that time, various other animals have been cloned in Brazil, including other cows and horses.