The cloning of animals has been a controversial topic ever since the announcement of the creation of Dolly the Sheep. Since that ground breaking proclamation, many animals have been cloned including the world’s first cloned camel.
Injaz, whose name means achievement in Arabic, was born on April 8th 2009 in Dubai. Injaz is a female camel with one hump and the world’s first cloned camel. Injaz was created using cells harvested from an ovary of an adult female camel which were then placed into an egg taken from the surrogate mother.
The cloned camel was born after an uncomplicated gestation period of 378 days. DNA analysis of Injaz’s cells and those of the original ovarian cells are identical thereby proving that Injaz is indeed a clone of the original animal.
The calf was born in Dubai's Camel Reproduction Centre, and scientists there hope to use the technology to preserve the bloodlines of some of the emirate's leading racing camels.
Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. She was born on July 5th 1996 and lived to the age of 6 years. A long list of subsequent cloned animals includes goats, cats, mules, a dog, cattle, wolf, mice, rat, horse, and rabbit. That list may someday include clones of extinct animals. According to an article in New Scientist, February 2009, a female Pyrenean Ibex, (a subspecies of mountain goat) was cloned. The species became extinct in 2000. Skin cells were taken from the last of the species and the nuclear DNA was combined with that of domestic goat cells. Thirty embryos were implanted into five goats, but only one embryo came to term. Success was short-lived since the cloned hybrid only survived a few minutes. However, it seems plausible that future attempts will be made to clone extinct animals with probable success.
Why clone animals? The answer seems obvious in the case of extinct animals but what about the implications of cloning animals for meat, milk and other resources? The failure rate in cloning animals is far higher than the success rate. According to FarmSantuary.org, more than 95% of cloning attempts fail. Of the 5% of cloned animals that do survive, a large portion of them suffer from health problems and/or deformities. Cloned animals also seem to have shortened life spans. Many of these animals suffer from disease. We have to wonder what impact it would have on human health if these cloned animals become part of the food supply. If it would become commonplace to clone animals for food the consequences could impact human culture and health in many ways yet unknown.
Moral and ethical debates continue over the cloning of animals regarding their suffering, and the possible impact that cloned animals may have on human health. There is no doubt that the issue of cloning animals such as Injaz, will continue to be debated well into the foreseeable future.