Prices are high, but clones are on the rise. You can clone a dog for $50,000, a cat for $30,000, and a horse for $85,000. 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 largely driven by celebrities and influencers who publicly brag about cloned pets.
Since the famous sheep Dolly was born in 1996, scientists have imitated mice, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits and cats, among others. In dogs, the matter was more difficult because of the species’ specific reproductive process. However, in 2005, the barrier was also overcome when two cloned Afghan Hounds were born in South Korea. One of them soon died of pneumonia, but the other – Snuppy – lived the entire decade. Only two years younger than Tai, from which cells were harvested to “produce” puppies.
South Korea remains the world leader in commercial animal cloning to this day. However, a genetic duplicate of your favorite dog or cat can also be ordered in the United States, and more specifically in Texas. The company Viagen Pets & Equine operating 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 the Tiktokerki Cat
Demand is largely driven by celebrities and influencers who publicly brag about cloned pets. In 2018, you could read in “Variety” and “New York Times” about Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet – Barbra Streisand dogs bred by Viagen from the cells of her previous pet Samantha. “It was easier for me to say goodbye to Sammie, knowing I could somehow keep a part of her alive,” Streisand wrote in a column for the NYT.
This year, the tiktoker Kelly Anderson, who in 2017 used Viagen’s services to “revive” her prematurely deceased cat Chai, has gotten quite rowdy and is now posting photos and videos featuring her clone Belle on social media. At that time, she spent 25,000 PLN on the entire operation. dollars, but – as he convinces his fans – he does not regret it. Despite the unpleasant news he gets about this every day. Their authors accuse her of cloning a cat to make money online. But Anderson denies this, saying it was because of Chaia’s love and special bond between them.
PETA, an animal rights organization, also contacted Tiktokerka, accusing it of promoting cloning, while shelters are full of cats awaiting adoption. However, Anderson believes that cloning has no effect on cats in shelters. She is professionally involved in animal training, has provided temporary homes to over a hundred cats to date, and has adopted her own cats. She claims that if Chai had lived as long as she should — not just five years — she wouldn’t want to clone her.
The geneticist Andrew Hessel, quoted by the BBC, also argues against PETA’s accusations that if a few people try to have a child and use the in vitro method for this purpose, for example, no one chides them by saying that there are many orphans in it. be the world. – And dogs also become family members – adds the scientist.
How is cloning done?
There are many more reasons than just overcrowded shelters to undermine the idea of pet cloning. Its detractors cite several studies showing that clones have shorter lives and are more susceptible to many diseases than their natural counterparts (although Viagen’s website says this isn’t true, and “a cloned dog is just your dog’s twins living on a later date is born)”)”.
However, there is still the issue of stress to other animals required for the cloning process. It is an egg donor and a surrogate. Cloning consists of taking the genetic material of the animal we want to “duplicate” (such material can be frozen and even used after many years) and taking an egg from another animal and replacing the DNA present in it with that of the “duplicated” individual. The resulting hybrid is stimulated to divide by an electrical impulse and grows in the lab until the embryo can be implanted into a surrogate mother, who – filled with hormones and sometimes forced to “mate” earlier with the neutered male – will give birth to a clone. And since the procedure is successful in only 20 percent of the time, it takes at least a few surrogates to be successful. And the business is much better than it was a decade ago. To give birth to Snuppy, 123 surrogates and over a thousand embryos were used.
Will the new animal be an exact copy of its predecessor?
The new animal will not be an exact copy of its predecessor. Even Viagen admits that. A dog or a cat may look identical (although Kelly Anderson thinks Belle is fluffier and rounder than Chai, who struggled with disease), his personality largely depends on the environment a particular genome interacts with. And this from the moment the embryo develops in the surrogate mother. According to the owner, Belle is “a very different cat”. Also, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet “differ in personality” from Samantha and from each other. As Streisand wrote in a 2018 column, “You can clone a dog’s appearance, but you can’t clone a soul.”
BBC, Smithsonian Magazine, TVN24
Main photo source: Shutterstock