Prices are high, but clones are rising. You can clone a dog for $ 50,000, a cat for $ 30,000, and a horse for $ 85,000. Today, South Korea is the world leader in commercial animal cloning. However, a genetic duplicate of your favorite dog or cat can also be ordered from the United States. Demand is driven mainly by celebrities and influencers who are openly proud of their cloned pets.
Since the famous sheep Dolly was born in 1996, scientists have replicated mice, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits and cats. With dogs, the problem was more difficult due to the specific reproductive process of the species. However, this obstacle was overcome in 2005 when two cloned Afghan greyhounds were born in South Korea. One of them soon died of pneumonia, and the other – Snoopy – lived for a whole decade. The puppy is only two years younger than Tai, which collects cells to “produce”.
South Korea remains the world leader in commercial animal cloning. However, a genetic duplicate of your favorite dog or cat can be ordered in the United States, or more precisely, in Texas. Viagen Pets & Equine, which operates there, has already cloned hundreds of these animals (previously focused on horses and cows), and according to its own statements, interest in this service is still growing.
Barbra Streisand’s cloned dogs and tiktokerki cat
Demand is driven mainly by celebrities and influencers who are openly proud of their cloned pets. In 2018, you can read in the Variety and New York Times about Barbra Streisand dogs that Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet – Viagen bred from the cells of her former pet Samantha. “It was easier for me to say goodbye to Sammie because I know I could live some of it,” Streisand wrote in a column for NYT.
Kelly Anderson, a tic-tac-toe who used Viagen’s services to “resurrect” the cat, who died prematurely in 2017, has made quite a fuss this year and is now posting photos and videos with the clone Belle on social media. At that time, he spent 25,000 PLN on the whole operation. dollars, but – as he convinced his fans – do not regret it. Despite the unpleasant news he receives every day on this subject. Their authors accuse him of cloning a cat to make money on the Internet. But Anderson denies this, saying it stems from Chaya’s love and the special bond between them.
PETA, an animal rights group, also contacted the tiktokerka, accusing it of promoting cloning, and the shelters are full of cats waiting to be adopted. However, Anderson believes that cloning has no effect on cats in shelters. She is a professional animal trainer, has so far provided temporary housing for more than a hundred cats, and has adopted her own cat. He claims that if Chai had lived as long as he needed to, not five years, he would not have wanted to clone him.
Andrew Hessel, a geneticist quoted by the BBC, also contradicts PETA’s claims that if several people try to have children and use it for this purpose, for example, in vitro, no one will condemn them. There are many orphans in the world. – And dogs also become members of the family – adds the scientist.
How is cloning performed?
There is more reason to shake the idea of cloning pets than overcrowded shelters. Opponents cite various studies showing that clones have a shorter lifespan than their natural counterparts and are more susceptible to many diseases (although Viagen’s website says this is not true, and that a clone dog is simply a twin of your dog born at a later date.).
However, there is still a stress problem for other animals that are necessary for the cloning process. It is an egg donor and surrogate. Cloning involves taking genetic material from an animal we want to “duplicate” (such material can be frozen and used after many years) and taking an egg from another animal and replacing the DNA in it with a “duplicate”. The resulting hybrid is stimulated to divide by an electrical impulse, and in the laboratory the embryo grows until it is implanted in a surrogate uterus, which is forced to “mate” with a hormone-filled and sometimes previously castrated male – giving birth to a clone. At least a few surrogates are needed. And the situation is better than it was a few years ago. 123 surrogates and more than a thousand embryos were used to give birth to Snuppy.
Will there be an exact copy of the new animal predecessor?
There will be no exact copy of the new animal predecessor. Even Viagen admits it. A dog or cat may look the same (although Kelly Anderson thinks Belle is more hairy and round than Tea, which fights the disease), and her personality largely depends on the environment in which a particular genome interacts. And this is from the moment the embryo develops in the surrogate uterus. Belle, according to her owner, is “a completely different cat.” Also, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet are “different in character” from Samantha and each other. As Streisand wrote in the 2018 column, “You can clone the appearance of a dog, but you can’t clone a soul.”
BBC, Smithsonian Magazine, TVN24
Main photo source: Shutterstock