The cloning of the bulls

1 minute read

Here's an AP story about cloning bullfighting bulls. Yes, I know, "bullfighting bulls" is redundant, but what else are you supposed to call them? I suppose corrida bulls.

The story adds to last year's discussion about horse cloning (horserace horse cloning?). But here the main theme is the affection that owners have for their bulls:

"I am extremely fond of this bull," del Rio said at his ranch in this town outside Madrid, watching 16-year-old Alcalde graze with some of his latest offspring -- mere toys next to their prolific, half-ton father. "He has given us tremendous satisfaction."

This has become quite the going concern:

ViaGen spokesman Ben Carlson confirmed the orders from del Rio and Fernandez, but would not comment on pregnancies or expected birth dates. Carlson said the breeders would pay standard cattle cloning prices: $17,500 for the first calf, $15,000 for the second, $12,500 for the third and $10,000 for the fourth and beyond.
ViaGen has cloned about 300 mammals, including show pigs, rodeo horses and bucking broncos, since its founding in 2002. But this is the world's first go at cloning the breed that takes on matadors in the deadly minuet of bullfighting.

The common strain between the bulls and the horses is the time you have to wait to see if your careful breeding made any difference:

Even in its traditional mode, bull breeding is a slow, hit-or-miss business. Studs are crossed with cows carefully selected for feistiness through simulated fights in the ring, albeit without bloodshed. Then the rancher has to wait a few years for the resulting bull to grow up, and see if it has the right stuff.

They're worried that the clones won't have the same qualities as the originals; calling it all an experiment.