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  Words in the News
  Chinese scientists said they’ve produced a cloned embryo of a giant panda. Toby Murcott of BBC Science reported.
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giant panda

24th June 1999

Cloning the panda

NEWS 1   The giant panda is unique to China and with only about a thousand left in the wild and a hundred in zoos, the country wants to try and clone the endangered breed within three to five years. Today’s announcement – that a cloned embryo of a giant panda has been created – is the first step towards this goal. According to the offical Chinese news agency, scientists at the the Chinese Academy of Sciences extracted genetic material from the cells of a dead panda and inserted it into the egg of a white rabbit. The researchers say it developed into a panda embryo and they’re now hoping to implant the embryo into the womb of a host animal in the hope that it might develop into a cloned giant panda.

unique to: this means that the giant panda is only found in China

clone: an animal or plant that is produced artifically from the cells of another animal or plant. Used also as a verb - to clone

endangered: commonly used to describe animals or plants that are getting increasingly rare and are in danger of disappearing from the planet

breed: a particular type of animal: a subgroup within a species

genetic material: general term for things like genes and the DNA found in genes

embryo: an animal or human in the very early stages of development in the womb

NEWS 2  

This, however, is unlikely at the first attempt. Cloning is still a hit and miss procedure - the scientists who created Dolly the Sheep tried nearly 300 times before Dolly was born. And nobody knows whether genetic material from a panda injected into a rabbit egg would grow into a normal animal. Nevertheless, if Chinese scientists are to achieve their dream of creating the world’s first clone of a giant panda, this is a crucial first step.


hit and miss: means that there is an element of luck involved and that is it often difficult to predict the results

Dolly the Sheep: a sheep cloned by scientists in Scotland

injected: using a syringe to get a liquid or substance deep into something

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

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