Genetics lab creates human/blue jay hybrid to increase school spirit

By MAR E. SHELLEY | April 1, 2018

APRIL FOOL’S: This article was published as part of The News-Letter’s annual April Fool’s edition, an attempt at adding some humor to a newspaper that is normally very serious about its reporting.

Plans for a new blue jay/human hybrid created by the University’s Recombinant Genetics Lab (RGL) were recently leaked online. The hybrid is intended to replace Jay the Blue Jay as the University’s official mascot. According to the leaked documents, it will be unveiled at this season’s homecoming lacrosse game and is projected to increase school spirit by 23 percent. The hybrid does not yet have a name and is referred to in the documents only as “Blue Jay Man.”

In an email to students, faculty and staff, University President Ronald J. Daniels assured the Hopkins community that this project is completely ethical and legal.

“Blue Jay Man was created by some of the world’s leading experts in genetic recombination technology,” Daniels wrote. “Although a project like this has never before been attempted, it was approved by all the official channels. Experiments were performed only on consenting adult humans and/or Cyanocitta cristata.”

Student reactions to the plans are mixed. Some, like president of the Johns Hopkins Humane Society Jane Richmond, disagree with Daniels’ view that this project is ethical. They believe that the University has far overstepped its bounds.

“There are far more useful things Hopkins could do with our tuition dollars than create some stupid new mascot,” Richmond said. “Also, blue jays can’t consent to scientific experimentation. They’re blue jays.”

Freshman Kyle Sheng, on the other hand, feels this project will benefit the University by attracting additional funding and prestige.

“I’m BME, so it’s great to see that Hopkins is doing lots of research in STEM fields,” he said. “This might be just what we need to get back in the top 10.”

Blue Jay Man is not the first time Hopkins has experimented with human genetic recombination. In the 1960s, the RGL worked on a fish/human hybrid intended to aid the U.S. in anti-Soviet efforts, but the project was shut down after a female researcher was caught in an intimate position with the hybrid. This experiment served as the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water (2017).

Junior Amelia Esposito, an undergraduate researcher at the RGL, said that the lab had taken extreme precautions to ensure that a similar situation would not happen with Blue Jay Man. 

“He’s locked in a metal cage all the time except for cheerleading practice two hours a day, and we have surveillance on him 24/7,” Esposito said. “Plus they don’t let girls anywhere near him — we’re only allowed to do paperwork and stuff, which I think is kind of sexist.”

A petition urging the University to shut down the Blue Jay Man project already has over 10,000 signatures. Spearheading the effort is senior Josh Barney, who works as a blue jay mascot during lacrosse games.

“This project is completely unfair to student employees. I need my job to help pay tuition, and Blue Jay Man would render it obsolete,” he said. “This proves that the University doesn’t actually care about its students, only ‘school spirit’ and ‘science.’”

Christopher Bens, director of the RGL, did not respond to The News-Letter’s request for comment as of press time.

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