[content_protector password=”running”]So, the latest plan to save the world: clone Giant Pandas!

According to a story here on Kiwi Kids News, scientists at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland are planning to clone their two remaining pandas. By taking tissue samples from the pandas and extracting their DNA, scientists can use it to ‘grow’ new Giant Pandas from other panda species. It would be like a kind of Giant Panda photocopier…

Not a bad idea, I hear you say. What could possibly be the problem with that? As there are approximately only 2000 Giant Pandas left in the world, and a few pairs in zoos around the world, it makes sense to – literally – make some more.

It would bring the Giant Panda back from the edge of extinction, and save one of earth’s most incredible animals.

But where do you stop? How many Giant Pandas would scientists clone? Another couple of pandas – so they could breed and give birth to panda cubs (if cloned pandas can actually give birth)? Or two pairs in case the other pair weren’t successful? Or eight pairs if that didn’t work? Or twenty pairs? Or enough that every zoo in the world wanted some? Or so every family can have one as pets? And then maybe a few extras as spares just in case…?! Where will the panda madness end?

And it is madness. What about other species? Why should pandas get special treatment? There are dozens of species of animals in Africa that are close to extinction because of hunting, poaching and climate change. What about them?

Unfortunately this is a typical human reaction. It’s like saying if you break something: oh it’s okay, I can just go and buy a new one. We have caused the extinction of hundreds of animals, birds and fish because of our greed and our lack of care of our environment. We can’t suddenly click our (scientific) fingers and magically create new animals to replace the ones we’ve lost.

Or can we?

If we do, will we learn our lesson?

The Giant Panda is a beautiful creature. But so were all the other creatures that are now extinct. Instead of trying to create an instant fix, mankind needs to take a long, hard look at itself and start to change its ways.


Article written by Ben Egerton

[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students:[/colored_box] 

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. If we keep relying on science to mend the planet, will mankind ever learn any lessons?

2. Why should the Giant Panda get special treatment?

3. Why don’t people seem to care about our world?


[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. What species in the world are currently critically endangered (close to being extinct)? What plans are being put in place to try and save them? Choose an animal and prepare a report on it.

2. How does cloning work? Investigate the process and the science behind it. Explain the process to the class using diagrams and/or models.

3. Which zoos around the world currently have Giant Pandas? What do they do to look after them? What makes these animals so hard to look after?


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