STUDY: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Used to Fertilize Northern White Rhinoceros Sperm With Southern White Rhino Egg

There’s a catch.

Some conservationists are unconvinced that these laboratory techniques will eventually lead to the generation of healthy herds of northern white rhinos. Their doubt is based on years of failure in applying assisted human reproductive methods to wild species of animals. These efforts have often been met with high mortality rates in the offspring and high rates of abortive pregnancies. Despite that, others have noted that few other options remain. And if these research endeavors do result in the successful reintroduction of the northern white rhino to the wild, it will open the gates toward the restoration of other populations of animal species that have been lost to due to hunting, poaching, pollution, and global climate change.

One question that should be considered as science moves us closer and closer to the dream of “de-extinction” and “bio-resurrection”: how far should we take this new technology? To quote the character of Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: “your scientists were so busy figuring out if they could that they never stopped to think if they should.” Indeed, despite our brilliant advances in molecular genetic techniques, are we truly smart enough to foresee all the eventualities of unleashing extinct species into a modern ecosystem? In all likelihood, we may soon have actual answers rather than hypothetical ones.

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