Introducing the world’s first monkey clones

Double trouble: The monkey’s names come from the word zhonghua, meaning “the Chinese people”.

Will cloned humans be next? Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first monkeys to survive the cloning process. However, this amazing scientific success could create more problems than it solves.

What’s happening

Cloning is a way for scientists to create genetically identical copies of the same animal, which they have been working on for over 20 years. The first animal to be cloned was Dolly the sheep, but since then scientists have cloned mice, cats, cows and more. Now, for the first time, they have cloned monkeys.

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Unlike all the other animal clones, these monkeys are primates… and so are humans. Until now, cloning people was impossible. However, as one scientist put it, “the technical barrier is now broken”. Being able to clone monkeys means we are much closer to cloning human beings.

To make a clone, a donor nucleus from one animal is put inside a new egg. This egg is put in a living monkey mother and encouraged to grow. Not easy. This time around there were 21 mums, but only two infants survived. They have the same genes as each other, and as the animal which provided the donor nucleus.

Cloning monkeys could help with developing new medicines and understanding illnesses — especially genetic ones.

Could scientists be about to move onto humans next?

Some say…

There is nothing to worry about. Full human clones are the stuff of science fiction; no real-life scientist or government would ever allow it to happen. People have argued about the ethics of human clones before and there are much stronger arguments against cloning humans than there are in its favour. We will go no further than monkeys, for now and for ever.

Others think…

Once something has been done, then “the genie’s out of the bottle.” It will be hard to stop people from doing it if they really want to, and some people do want to. All it would take is one scientist to break the law and cross the line, and the argument would change. Once people got used to the idea, the demand for human clones might soon grow.

You Decide

  1. How would you feel if someone made a clone of you?

Activities

  1. Cloning produces an exact genetic copy, but this does not mean that clones will grow up to look identical and behave in exactly the same way. Can you think of all the other things that affect the way someone looks, or how they behave?

Some People Say...

“If God made the original, then making copies should be fine.”

Douglas Coupland

What do you think?

Word Watch

Genetically identical
Any two creatures that contain exactly the same genes - the things that determine how a body builds itself. Identical twins are also genetically identical.
Dolly the sheep
The first cloned animal, Dolly, was born in 1996 and died in 2003.
Primates
An order of mammals including lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans.
Donor nucleus
The donor is the animal from which the nucleus came. The nucleus is the bit inside the middle of an egg.
Infants
Newborn. Baby monkeys in this case.

Subjects

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