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SCIENCE
 

Chinese company gets baby pigs to stay small; will they be good pets?

A BGI gene-edited micro pig (left) stands next to some Bama mini pigs that are conventionally used for scientific research.
A BGI gene-edited micro pig (left) stands next to some Bama mini pigs that are conventionally used for scientific research. Courtesy of Alison Van Eenennaam

BEIJING, China — Baby pigs can make cute pets. The problem is that they do not stay small forever. When they grow up, they can be as big as a bathtub.

A Chinese company says it now has the answer. It has made a mini pig. The mini pig weighs about 33 pounds. An adult pig can weigh hundreds of pounds.

Gene-Editing

The company is called BGI. It made the tiny pig by changing its DNA. The method is called gene-editing. DNA are the instructions for life. It tells your body how to grow and work. Pigs have DNA too. DNA is passed from parents to their children.

DNA is made up of genes. Genes control how big people and animals will grow. They also control eye color.

BGI will start selling the mini pigs for $1,600. The company did not set out to make pets. It wanted to make smaller animals to study human diseases.

"Pigs Are Good Pets"

Several music and movie stars have pet pigs. Miley Cyrus’ pig is named Bubba Sue. It grew so big she can hardly lift it.

Some people abandon pet pigs that grow too large. Experts say that more people would keep their pigs if they were smaller. Curt Mills is with the Southern California Association for Miniature Pot-Bellied Pigs. He says four California animal shelters are filled with pet pigs. About 150 of them are looking for homes.

“Pigs are good pets," said Patty Morrisroe. She raises pet pigs in Oregon. She said the problem is that they can grow too large.

Popular Fish Lights Up

Alison Van Eenennaam is an expert at the University of California. She visited BGI about three months ago. She saw the micro pigs.

Gene editing is a powerful tool, Van Eenennaam said. It can make animals that stay healthy. People are also happy to have them as pets.

A fish, called GloFish, has been popular in the United States. It lights up. Scientists in Singapore made them. They inserted jellyfish and sea anemone genes into zebrafish eggs.

Friends, Not Food

Yet, many people do not want to eat animals that were changed. No genetically changed animal can be used for food. No country allows it.

BGI did not just make smaller pigs. The company figured out how to do something else. It can change the pigs' colors.

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1
Anchor 2: Central Idea

Which sentence from the section "Gene-Editing" is MOST important to the main idea of the article?

A

It made the tiny pig by changing its DNA.

B

It tells your body how to grow and work.

C

Genes control how big people and animals will grow.

D

It wanted to make smaller animals to study human diseases.

2
Anchor 2: Central Idea

What is the MAIN idea of the section "Pigs Are Good Pets"?

A

Pigs are popular pets, mostly with famous people.

B

Pigs are popular pets, but are a problem when they get too big.

C

Pigs are popular pets and most pig owners would get another one.

D

Pigs are popular pets and are filling up the animal shelters.

3
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Which word from the article is MOST closely related to the term "DNA"?

A

pig

B

grow

C

gene

D

changed

4
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentence from the article.

She saw the micro pigs.

Which sentence helps explain the meaning of "micro"?

A

Baby pigs can make cute pets.

B

Several music and movie stars have pet pigs.

C

BGI did not just make smaller pigs.

D

It can change the pigs' colors.

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