Animal and Pet Cloning Opinion Polls

Cat looking into a mirror

Americans very consistently oppose animal cloning in general. They specifically disapprove of pet cloning, and the use of cloning to reestablish endangered, or revive extinct, species.

The cloning and possible genetic modification of animals has been polled regularly since the announcement of the first cloned sheep in 1997. Almost immediately, applications and extensions of the technique were discussed, notably to standardize livestock, rescue endangered species and even to revive extinct species. It is notable that over more than 20 years, these proposed applications have never achieved general public acceptance.

Lou Hawthorne, an eccentric entrepreneur financed by John Sperling, tried to establish a pet cloning industry in the early 2000s, but abandoned the attempt when he (finally) realized that it was impossible without “a huge amount of suffering.” Nevertheless, the disgraced Korean stem-cell scientist Hwang Woo-Suk continues to sell cloned dogs for high prices, and occasionally derives headlines by selling to celebrities, including Barbra Streisand. In 2018, a Chinese company also entered the dog cloning market. Hwang  claims that he will revive mammoths by cloning; others, including Harvard’s George Church, aim to do the same by genetically editing an elephant.

Animals are routinely used in laboratories, and increasingly genetically modified for research purposes and perhaps for xenotransplantation. There is little if any polling on these topics, though medical applications of technology are generally less unpopular than recreational ones.

Poll Summary

Verbatim text of the questions, and complete survey reports, can generally be found by clicking on the links in the ‘Poll’ column; missing data is indicated by a dash. A few notes on phrasing and the very limited demographic data available follow the table.

Poll
(US unless noted)

Date

Topic

Approve

Disapprove

Other

Gallup May 2018 Animal cloning 40 51 3
Pew Apr/May 2018 Animals in research 47 52 2
Pew Apr/May 2018 Genetic engineering for better meat 43 55 2
Pew Apr/May 2018 Genetic engineering for de-extinction 32 67 1
Pew Apr/May 2018 Genetic engineering of mosquitoes 70 29 1
Pew Apr/May 2018 Genetic engineering for transplants 57 41 2
Pew Apr–May 2018 Genetic engineering for glowing fish 21 77 1
Gallup May 2017 Animal cloning 32 63 4
Gallup May 2016 Animal cloning 34 60 7
Gallup May 2015 Animal cloning 34 60 6
Pew Aug 2014 Animals in research 47 50 3
Gallup May 2014 Animal cloning 34 60 5
YouGov Jan 2014 Mammoth/other extinct 27 55 18
YouGov Aug 2013 Woolly mammoth 28 40 33
Gallup May 2013 Animal cloning 34 60 6
YouGov Jan 2013 Woolly mammoth 31 46 23
Angus Reid (Canada) Jan 2013 Animal cloning 26
Angus Reid (US) Jan 2013 Animal cloning 23
Angus Reid (UK) Jan 2013 Animal cloning 20
Gallup May 2012 Animal cloning 34 60 6
Gallup May 2011 Animal cloning 32 62 6
Gallup May 2010 Animal cloning 31 63 6
Gallup May 2009 Animal cloning 34 63 3
Pew Apr/May 2009 Animals in research 52 43 6
Gallup May 2008 Animal cloning 33 61 6
Gallup May 2007 Animal cloning 36 59 5
Gallup May 2006 Animal cloning 29 65 6
Gallup May 2005 Animal cloning 35 61 4
Gallup (Canada) 2004 Animal cloning 30
Gallup (UK) 2004 Animal cloning 26
Gallup May 2004 Animal cloning 32 67 4
ORC Feb 2004 Pet cloning 13 80 7
ORC Feb 2004 Genetically Modified
Pets
12 84 4
Gallup (teens) Aug 2003 Animal cloning 32 67 1
Gallup May 2003 Animal cloning 29 68 3
GPPC Oct 2002 Animal cloning 37 55 8
Gallup May 2002 Animal cloning 29 66 5
Gallup May 2002 Endangered species 38 58 4
Gallup May 2002 Pet cloning 15 82 3
Fox News Feb 2002 Endangered species 29 64 7
Fox News Feb 2002 Extinct species 20 72 8
Fox News Feb 2002 Livestock 23 71 6
Fox News Apr 2001 Endangered species 32 61 7
Fox News Apr 2001 Extinct species 23 69 8
Fox News Apr 2001 Livestock 27 66 7
Fox Feb 2002 Pet cloning 12 84 4
ABC Aug 2001 Animal cloning legal? 37 59 4
Gallup May 2001 Animal cloning moral? 31 63 4
Gallup May 2001 Allow animal cloning? 32 64 4
Fox Apr 2001 Pet cloning 16 79 5
Time/CNN Feb 2001 Animal cloning 29 67 4
Fox News Jan 1998 Endangered species 32 61 7
Fox News Jan 1998 Extinct species 19 73 8
Fox News Jan 1998 Livestock 28 65 7
Fox News Mar 1997 Endangered species 31 60 9
Fox News Mar 1997 Extinct species 19 70 11
Fox News Mar 1997 Livestock 28 62 6
CNN/Time Feb 1997 Animal cloning 28 66 6

Notes

The 2002–2018 Gallup polls, and the 1997 CNN/Time poll, asked whether animal cloning was "morally acceptable" or "morally wrong," as did the 2013 Angus Reid survey of Canada, the US and the UK. The 2001 Time/CNN poll asked if it was "a good idea or a bad idea." The 2002 Genetics and Public Policy Center (GPPC) poll asked for approval/disapproval of "scientists working on ways to clone animals."  

The January 2013 YouGov poll also asked about cloning Neanderthals, with or without a human surrogate, opposed 17–63 and 15–66, respectively. The January 2014 YouGov survey asked about "woolly mammoths and other extinct species" and distinguished between strong and "somewhat" approval and disapproval (8% strongly approved, 34% strongly disapproved).

The April/May 2018 Pew poll includes an assessment of the science knowledge of respondents (24% high, 49% medium, 26% low) based on answers to nine factual questions, applied as part of a demographic analysis: “Men, those with high science knowledge and those low in religiosity are more inclined to see these varied uses of animal biotechnology as appropriate.” The main reasons (respondents were asked to name one) for objecting to specific proposals varied, frequently including risk of unintended consequences, animal welfare, “messing with” nature or God's plan, and being a waste of time and resources.

Very little other demographic data is available, and none recent. According to the 2001 Gallup and ABC polls, people with postgraduate education and those earning above $75,000 were more inclined to favor animal cloning. Religious people tended to be more opposed than the non-religious. There was also a substantial gender gap, with women strongly opposed to animal cloning (25–71% in the ABC poll, 74% opposed in the Gallup), and men almost evenly split.

The February 2004 Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) poll summary was prepared for the American Anti-Vivisection Society, and contains fairly detailed demographic breakdowns (opposition varied from 73% to 88%). It was the first and perhaps only only available poll that specifically addresses the issue of genetically modified (as distinguished from cloned) pets, and shows that they even more unpopular, with 84% opposing and only 12% approving of them.

Updated 1/15/2019