These Unbelievably Cute Monkeys Are The First Primates Successfully Cloned by Scientists

Scientists have cloned monkeys for the first time, bringing science a step closer to cloning humans, ABC News reports.

The first time the technique was used was when researchers cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996. Since then, scientists have successfully cloned two dozen types of mammals, including cats and dogs, cows, pigs, and ponies.

The monkeys mark the first time scientists were able to successfully clone primates, a group that also includes apes and humans.

“The barrier of cloning primate species is now overcome,” the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Muming Poo said, according to ABC.

Via ABC News:

In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Cell, he and his colleagues announced that they successfully created two macaques. The female baby monkeys, about 7 and 8 weeks old, are named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.

“It’s been a long road,” said one scientist who tried and failed to make monkeys and was not involved in the new research, Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University. “Finally, they did it.”

The Vatican’s top bioethics official said Thursday that it was an important scientific development, but one that requires urgent ethical debate.

Archbishop Vincenzio Paglia, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said scientific progress must have as its goal prioritizing human life, and said this could allow cloned animals to be designed for medical experimentation.

But he warned that many animal lives were lost in reaching the milestone and that “we must always consider the effect of our interference in the ecosystem and evaluate the risks.”

Poo says that the latest success shows that cloning in humans is likely possible but his team has no intention of doing that. Most scientists are opposed to human cloning and Poo suggested that nations will likely move to ban it.