Should We Clone Animals to Kill Them?

The issue of cloning brings with it a myriad of moral dilemmas, and one stark dilemma has come to light in the news recently.

A group of Spanish scientists are going to attempt to clone a bucardo, a type of Ibex that was deemed extinct at the turn of the century. It seems cells were harvested from the last known living bucardo before she died,and now the Centre for Research and Food Technology of Aragon (CITA) in Zaragoza is going to analyze the cells for viability for a second attempt to clone the animal. One prior attempt to clone the animal was made in 2003, but the calf died soon after birth.

Celia (photo: Gobierno de Aragon)
Celia (photo: Gobierno de Aragon)

The dilemma? The project is being funded by a group called the Aragon Hunting Federation. The group has not made public its reasons for sponsoring a project like this, but there is some speculation they desire to preserve their ability to hunt animals with abandon.

After all, who could object to their killing animals such as elephants, tigers, or bucardo, if their group continued to ensure the animals’ existence here on earth?

Herein lies the dilemma. Is it acceptable to clone an animal for the sole purpose of killing them?

What are the implications for cloning an animal Mother Nature has deemed she cannot currently care for?

This is a photo of the last thylacine. She died in 1936 in a zoo due neglect.
This is a photo of the last thylacine. She died in 1936 in a zoo due to neglect.

And consider how cloning of animals could take canned hunts to the next level with laboratories cloning all sorts of extinct animals for hunters. If you’ve got enough money, you could theoretically kill a saber tooth tiger, or Dodo, or even a dinosaur. Are we as a species willing to accept this sort of behavior as appropriate?

What are your thoughts about the cloning of the bucardo and of the group funding the project?

34 thoughts on “Should We Clone Animals to Kill Them?

  1. Cloned or not, they remain living beings with emotions, so to me there is no difference thus the answer is a big NO! If they wish to do it so that we can save species from extinction, that’s another story [although I am not so sure about cloning altogether – it somehow doesn’t feel right…].
    A very happy Monday to all the company! 🙂

    1. That’s the thing. They can give whatever reason they want for funding the project. But the big question is: Will they be allowed to hunt the animals they brought back from extinction?

      1. I read your blog first thing this morning {it’s now afternoon in Australia} and my mind is still boggled that anyone could fund a project to clone animals only to kill them again?! How on earth does anyone with a conscience think that is a vaguely acceptable idea? If I’d read that they were cloning extinct animals for our future generations to learn to harmoniously share this planet with, I may feel differently, but only to turn around and hunt them? Humans really disappoint me some days!

  2. Definitely not appreciable for killing some species! In order to save about to extinct species we can clone, but not by harming the animal in any way in the process.

      1. I can understand, but we humans have already done the damages :'(. We need to reverse / advance / stop so many practices we do accordingly. For example transport we need to advance leaving fossil fuel dependency. We need stop using plastics. Reformation and education alone can do them we believe!

      1. I always have a bad feeling about cloning, I’m afraid it could go too far and sometimes we only will have cloned things, peoples and animals. And in this case, to clone animals to kill them later that’s evil.

  3. There is something Frankenstein’ish about this !!! Experimenting with the all powerful “DNA”, Is a road man should NOT go down. There is a Monster at the end of it !!!

  4. I’m sure their extinction was somehow the fault of humans so bringing them back should be our responsibility, however, if they do manage to successfully clone the animal, it should immediately be put on the endangered species list. Of course, I don’t see any type of success with cells from a female but none from a male.

  5. I strongly disagree with the idea for cloning animals…..that’s very unnatural and if we do it, we would get some penalty from the nature. Very scary…..However cloning only some specific part of cells for certain uncurable disease, I agree.

  6. There is something that feels very wrong about cloning. I understand trying to bring back an animal from extinction but I struggle morally with the idea. I’m not religious or anything, it just feels wrong.

    However, in answer to your question, hunting is wrong full stop and any animal brought back from extinction should absolutely never be hunted.

    Interesting question though

    ~ Amy

  7. While I don’t want to be seen as taking sides on this debate since I have yet to do my own research on this particular issue, I do have a few things to bring to the table about cloning.

    As you mentioned in the post, cloning is a rather expensive process, and it would surprise me if that changes any time in the near future (even the rare few people that cone their deceased pets have to shell out many thousands of dollars).

    Both the FDA and the National Human Genome Research Institute both mention the lifespan of a cloned animals is very iffy at best. Typically depending on the age of the creature to be cloned (non-humans, human cloning has been outlawed in many places as well as unsuccessful in others). From what I’ve seen (I’m not an expert, this is from light research, and what I recall from biology and anatomy classes) the biggest hurdle seems to be the length of Telomeres on the creatures chromosomes. The telomeres are generally accepted as a cellular clock that keeps track of and spurs aging. During cellular division the telomeres are shortened, when they reach a certain length the cell can no longer divide and dies. Another theory is about the quantity of mitochondrial DNA from the potential clone vs. the donor cell, I haven’t done any research on that but I felt I should mention this alternate theory.

    Now considering those major obstacles to cloning, odds of this trend actually being a feasible (regardless of purpose) endeavor are rather slim. It would take many more years of research, more sophisticated technology, and a more efficient method before this could become mainstream.

    1. Perhaps so. And also it may well be that the advances made in cloning will come paid for by those wishing to push their own agenda, such as this hunting club.

  8. Where does this stop! We saw the cloning a sheep way back in 1996 of Dolly the Sheep
    When will we stop play ‘God; and start and protect and look after the species that we are driving to extinction NOW!…
    and NO I do not agree with cloning ..

    If they cloned Dolly back in 96, think of the experiments we know nothing about that MUST be going on.. And probably not all on animals either!

  9. In a word, NO. I don’t believe in screwing around with the natural order of things. If a species became extinct it was for a reason. I’m not religious btw, just think humankind has done enough damage to this planet and all the beings that exist on it. To bring such creatures back just so someone (who happens to have the money) can turn around and kill them is just sick.

  10. Reblogged this on realwomenconnect and commented:
    I think to clone a animal to bring it back from extinction is a great thing to bring back something we will otherwise would never know. Now to clone and bring back an animal just to kill it seems ruthless and pointless if its going to just end up mounted on someones wall.
    I think its facinating how science can even do this, and Im all for it , if there are some kind of benefits that makes sense. Why bring it back just to send it to extinction again. I think its a blessing to have opportunity to bring back an animal to study and re- populate, we shouldnt use it for evil and our own pleasure.

  11. While this is most definitely an emotionally charged topic, too many of the responses from readers and concerned persons have been intellectually unsatisfying. It’s one thing to say that you have a moral intuition or emotional response which rejects the idea of cloning an extinct animal. It’s another to be able to adequately defend why you hold such a view. We cannot reject certain actions merely because they make us feel a certain way. A mere feeling of discomfort or unease should not be the deciding factor for what can properly be considered “moral” or “immoral.” We must dig deeper than that for there will be situations in which whatever feels “wrong” or “unnatural” may actually be the answer we’re seeking to solve a specific problem.

    To counterbalance the nay-sayers here, I’ll try to provide some relevant background information that may sway some.

    First, let us consider the matter from a continued economic perspective. Suppose that this hunting club funds enough research to have those scientific labs successfully recreate the bucardo. If/when the research is satisfactory (the clones have average life spans, they do not pose significant threats to human beings or their environments, etc.), there could be potentially great economic expansion. Bucardo farms are created to breed and sell bucardos. This means there have to be workers who tend to bucardos. In order to tend the bucardos, these workers will need equipment, perhaps specialized equipment. This specialized equipment will require technical knowledge that requires potentially years of study and practice. The bucardos’ felt and meat may be used for clothing items or edibles which can then be manufactured/cooked respectively, distributed, and then sold. The bucardo could become a part of any nation’s culture in which it was found. It could influence communal ties, festivals/holidays, myths and stories, and so much more. The economic potential for the cloning and ecological reintroduction of this one animal is extremely lucrative if the research can develop.

    Next, we can consider the matter from an ethical perspective. One focus can be consistency, treating like cases similarly. It seems that many are against this cloning because it would just be bringing back the creatures to use as objects of our own selfish desires. Here several questions are necessary. Why not ban all hunting that is merely for sport instead of just that targeting the bucardo? Why not ban owning pets since owning a pet just for personal comfort (companionship, comfort, entertainment, etc.) is in the same league as using a creature as an object of our own selfish desires? The problem is people want to say they have an intuition about this being morally wrong yet if they accept this intuition, they are living inconsistently.

    Finally, we can consider the matter from a psychological/biological perspective. Human beings are getting upset about this but they are misunderstanding the situation. The bucardo will have no knowledge of why it suddenly exists again. It won’t be able to understand its precarious situation. We’re upset because we’re assuming the bucardos have the same level of cognitive brain function that humans do but they don’t. Mere reaction to pain is not even close to being conscious. Pain is merely a physiologically negative reaction to a noxious stimulus. It can’t be used to determine whether or not animals think or feel or communicate as we do. Ergo, we have to stop thinking as if the animals understand what is happening to them. We’re essentially projecting our feelings onto them in an instance of misplaced empathy.

  12. Mum sayz it iz playin CREEATUR iz so wrong n it iz immoral…
    Fer me it soundz scarey…me wuud not want to be cloned n can ya imagine to be brought to life onlee to bee killed…pawfull…..n scarey….
    Nylalbue n Sherriellen Mum

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