In the past, cloning was only science fiction, today it is commonly practiced. Chinese biotech company Sinogene has succeeded in cloning an arctic wolf. According to some scientists, cloning may become a hope for endangered species that are at risk of extinction.

A cloned arctic wolf named Maya

The cloned arctic wolf is a female and is named Maya. Maya was born in Beijing on June 10. How did scientists create it? They took DNA from a skin sample of an arctic wolf that lives in the controversial Harbin Polarland theme park. The genetic material was then inserted into the denucleated egg cell of a female dog that was “in heat.” A beagle was then chosen as a surrogate mother to gestate the embryo in its womb until birth. This process is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. Remember when Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996? Many years have passed since then, and scientists have succeeded in cloning a large number of mammals, from dogs to rabbits or rats.

This is not a single clone of an endangered animal

Using a similar technique, the Pyrenean ibex, aka the bucardo, was successfully cloned in the past. At that time, it was the only specimen of an animal that was resurrected after it had died out. Sinogene did not immediately announce its success, but waited 100 days after Maya’s birth to announce that everything was successful and the wolf pup was healthy. According to information from the Global Times, the second arctic wolf should be born very soon.

“This is not only the achievement of our research cooperation with Harbin Polarland, but also our new attempt and breakthrough in the protection and breeding of wild and endangered animals,” Mi Jidong, general manager of Sinogene, reportedly said during the news conference. “From the start of the project in 2020 to the healthy birth of the wolf pup in June of this year, we have overcome many difficulties. Looking back, it’s worth it.”

Credit: Sinogene

Where is this animal’s home?

Not everyone knows that this species even exists. The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos) is a subspecies of the gray wolf that can be found in the High Arctic tundra of northern Canada. It has features that make it different from other wolves. It can be distinguished, for example, by its narrower skull or by its light fur, which provides excellent camouflage in the snow.

Credit: Sinogene

Cloning is a common practice, but is it ethical?

Sinogene has been cloning pets for a long time, and people can get a dog or a cat cloned there. The basis for them is the collected DNA, on the basis of which they will take care of cloning. Of course, such a process is expensive, but rich people can afford it. The question is whether such a thing is morally correct. The company is understandably not interested in ethics, but profit. The animal cloning business will continue, and it is hard to guess whether humans are also being cloned in some secret laboratory. When it is possible to clone such complex organisms as a dog or a sheep, it can also be done in humans.


Photo: Sinogene