Attack of the Clones
Move over, Dolly: For the first time in history, scientists have successfully cloned an endangered animal, giving rise to speculation about what role technology will play in preserving — and even reviving — imperiled species. Using a single frozen skin cell, scientists at the San Diego Zoo cloned a Javan banteng, a cattle-like animal native to Asia. The cell was taken from a captive banteng that died in 1980; the resulting embryo was transferred to a beef cow, and the baby banteng, born April 1, is currently thriving. Only one other endangered animal, the Asian guar, has ever been cloned, but it died two days after birth. Likewise, another banteng born from the same method is currently in poor health. Hunting and ecosystem devastation have reduced banteng numbers by 80 percent in the last two decades, and the scientists involved in the cloning emphasized that no conservation technique is as important as habitat protection.