Chapter 2

Behind all the name and fame of “Dolly, the famous sheep”, I was merely a result of a research attempt. I always used to wonder how my life would have been outside this lab, in the fields. Those wild sheep and rams are so lucky to enjoy the nature, the long stretch of meadows in which they can graze all throughout the day and play along with their lambs.

I too wanted to live such a life, and then I met David. He was a young Welsh mountain ram. My scientist parents allowed me to have a normal sheep life. When I first met him, he was a bit shy thinking being a celebrity sheep I must be very egoistic. A few days passed with some formal chats. Then we came to know we both share a lot of common interests. He used to talk about the landscape in Welsh mountains and I behaving like a geeky sheep talked about cloning and genetics! How embarrassing it was by not knowing about anything of the outside world. Yet he accepted me the way I was and was so patient enough to listen to my hour long lectures on life science. We vowed to stay together for the rest of our lives. I had my first born lamb with David in the month of April, 1998. They named her Bonnie. She was a cute little ball of fur when she was born. I was overwhelmed seeing her for the first time. My life got a new purpose of raising my lamb with lot of affection and care.

I have always heard my scientist parents say, “‘Impossible’ is not a scientific term”. I could see scientists from all around the world putting their efforts in cloning. Nice to have more cloned friends for someone like me!

During the period of my maternity, US scientists were successful cloning a Holstein cow. They named the calf Gene. I wonder how a-moo-sing her life would be, being the first cow to be cloned! There was another interesting news I got on my 2nd birthday. Yes, it was July 5th, 1998. After a short celebration of my second birthday with my fellow flocks, the scientists and of course not to forget- the media, I came to know I get to share my birthday with two more clones. Japanese scientists cloned a cow into two calves who were born exactly two years later than me, they named them Noto and Kaga.

All these progresses in genetics make me wonder if these are the current developments, where will the humans be after a few decades. They might be cloning themselves! I just wish it is not misused by anyone for the hope of attaining immortal life.

The year 1998 was crucial for both me and the life science.

By the start of the 1999, I had mastered the art of eavesdropping! I used to overhear every discussion among my scientist parents regardless it concerned me or not. One day they I saw my vets and embryologist worried because of some test results. I heard my name in that and something about telomeres. What are telomeres? I wondered. Then an aged sheep who was there in Roslin Institute since a long time explained me the meaning and significance of telomeres. Telomeres are segments of DNA found at the tip of each chromosome in nonbacterial cells. Replication of telomeres is regulated by a special enzyme called telomerase. As organisms age, the telomeres tend to shrink in size.

My scientist parents found that my telomeres were shorter than usual. Since I was cloned from a six year old sheep, my cells were older than my actual age. This had put all of us into deep thought if I was aging prematurely and going to die early. In fact it became a big question mark on the whole process of cloning and life expectancy of cloned animals.

to be continued …



When Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, was born, many researchers wondered what the effects of starting life with ‘old’ cells might be. The scientists who cloned Dolly reported that the famous sheep’s DNA might be showing its age- According to test results in 1999.

The results from the control sheep confirmed that the telomeres do indeed decrease in size with age. The researchers also observed that the telomeres were shorter in all of the clones compared with the normal animals. The difference in size achieved statistical significance for the animal cloned from mature cells (Dolly) and the animal cloned from embryo cells. The telomeres from the clone produced from fetal fibroblasts were shorter, but not enough to be considered statistically significant.

The telomeres derived from Dolly were the length that would be expected for the age of the original donor cell. Dolly, was two years and counting, was derived from six-year old parent cells. The telomeres from the clone derived from embryonic cells also appeared to reflect the age of the original cells, as well as their time in culture.

The researchers didn’t know whether or not the telomere changes reflect changes in the physiological ages of the animals. It may be that the effect on telomeres may have no effect on the longevity of cloned animals. Veterinary examinations indicated the animals were happy and healthy. Other researchers had cloned mice from mice clones and reported no apparent effects on longevity in those animals.

Although Dolly’s telomeres appeared shorter than other sheep of a similar age they certainly were not of an old animal. Extensive health screens carried out at the time failed to identify any abnormality with Dolly that would suggest premature aging. GuptaDolly - An Autobiographyanimal,bonnie,cloning,dolly    Chapter 2 Behind all the name and fame of “Dolly, the famous sheep”, I was merely a result of a research attempt. I always used to wonder how my life would have been outside this lab, in the fields. Those wild sheep and rams are so lucky to enjoy the...When Nature and Science meet, Magic happens !