Cloning techniques are used to try to produce exact 'copies' of a particular animal. The use of cloning technology is often justified by statements that the research could lead to cheaper methods of producing medical treatments and food products. Cloning techniques have also been, or are being used, to create 'copies' of:
- Pet dogs and cats
- Particular farm animals (e.g. prizewinning bulls)
- Successful sport horses (e.g. used in show jumping)
- Bulls used in bullfighting
- Endangered or even extinct species (e.g. wooly mammoths).
We believe there is no justification for cloning animals for such trivial purposes.
Facts about animal cloning
- The first cloned mammal successfully produced using a cell taken from another animal was 'Dolly the sheep' - born in 1996.
- The growing list of species to have been cloned now includes mice, pigs, goats, dogs, cats, horses, mules and fish.
- Fewer than 5% of cloned embryos usually survive to birth.
- Where cloned animals are born alive, they often have breathing problems, tumours, liver defects or other abnormalities, and have a reduced lifespan.
How are animals cloned?
The cloning process usually involves removing DNA from a cell taken from one animal and placing this into an egg cell from another animal. This must be an unfertilised egg that has had its own DNA removed. This egg is then artificially stimulated to start developing into an embryo and placed into a surrogate mother animal. See this process in our simple graphic on cloning animals.
Our view on animal cloning
Cloning is a serious concern for the RSPCA. The process involves scientific procedures that can cause pain, suffering and distress, with little consideration for ethics or animal welfare. What's more, cloning never creates a true copy of the original animal. All animals are individuals, with their own personalities.
We would like people considering cloning their beloved companions to adopt an animal who needs a home instead.