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Such a high cost is obviously not affordable for the common man, which might be the reason that most of the firm’s clients are celebrities.
Barbra Streisand in 2018 disclosed that she had two puppies cloned from her former pet Samantha.
The same year it was reported that media mogul Simon Cowell was also planning on cloning his three Yorkshire terriers.
Now on to how the cloning happens.
There are a number of techniques, but generally, it is done using a cell nucleus from the animal that is to be cloned, which is then injected into a donor egg. The egg is then grown in a laboratory and then transferred into an embryo. This is then planted into the uterus of a surrogate mother.
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According to Viagen’s president, Blake Russell, the genetic material of the animal you want to clone can be kept virtually indefinitely before the cloning process.
This is due to the use of cryopreservation or freezing at extremely low temperatures.
“A cloned pet is, simply put, an identical genetic twin, separated by years, decades, perhaps centuries,” he adds.
Animal welfare organisations, on the other hand, have serious reservations about the industry. A number of scientific investigations, for example, have revealed that cloned animals are more susceptible to disease.
Others criticise the industry’s high failure rate, citing the enormous number of clones that are not born healthy and fit. According to a survey published by Columbia University in New York in 2018, the average success rate is only 20 per cent. To allow for several attempts, you’ll need a large number of surrogate mothers.
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According to Penny Hawkins, an animal welfare expert at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it can be unpleasant and distressing for female animals who have their eggs taken for donation and those who are preparing for surrogate pregnancy.
Additionally, a cloned pet can never be the exact copy of your pet.
Even a Viagen official was quoted last year as saying that an animal’s upbringing or nurture accounts for 25 per cent of its personality.
Other experts also point at the huge number of animals in shelters waiting to be adopted and comment that wasting thousands of dollars on cloning is nothing short of wasteful. Others counter that this same logic can be applied to human children and comment that “why even have kids just adopt”.
(With inputs from agencies)