Rare Animal Clone Dies

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

American scientists have reported producing the first exact copy of a rare animal.

The baby gaur was born on January eighth in the state of Iowa. He died two days later from a common bacterial infection. The scientists say the infection probably did not result from the methods of cloning they used to create him.

The gaur successfully grew and developed inside a common cow. Experts say he is the first clone ever born to another kind of animal.

Gaurs are native to India and southeast Asia. The wild oxen are generally brown or black in color. In recent years, hunting by humans has sharply reduced the gaur population. Only about thirty-thousand of the animals are believed to exist.

The baby gaur was created with the cells of a male gaur that lived at the San Diego Zoo in California. That gaur died eight years ago. Zoo officials saved his skin cells for future experiments.

Scientists with an American company, Advanced Cell Technology, supervised the project. The scientists removed genetic material from hundreds of cow eggs. Then, they added the gaur cells to the eggs. They say this helped to guarantee that the resulting animal would not be a mix between a gaur and a cow.

Only one successful pregnancy resulted from the experiment. The scientists named the baby gaur Noah. He weighed thirty-six kilograms when born and seemed healthy. However, he quickly developed a bacterial disease common among young animals. The scientists were unable to save his life.

The scientists say they are sad that the animal died. They say Noah was full of energy and friendly during his short life. However, they are pleased that the experiment was successful.

The American company is planning other projects. The scientists hope to produce a clone of a wild mountain goat native to Spain. They plan to use cells from the last known bucardo goat, which died last year. No other bucardos are know to exist.

The successful cloning of a gaur suggests that other rare animals could be brought back into existence. Yet, wildlife activists note that the technology is costly. And, they say there is no reason to create more rare animals if nothing is being done to deal with the causes of their disappearance.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.