More people are cloning their pets despite the cost

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(Photo: Warren Umoh / Unsplash)
For many of us, cloning animals is reminiscent of Dolly the Aries — one of the world’s first cloned mammals. But cloning technology has seen a fair share of its development since Dolly was born in 1996. Nowadays, despite the financial investment, more and more people are choosing to clone their favorite pets.

ViaGen, a Texas-based firm that bought intellectual property for cloning technology in 1998, is in the business of helping individuals and families clone their pets. But it wasn’t always that way. ViaGen aims to improve cattle breeding by “bypassing the genetic lottery” by producing high-value bulls and other animals, According to A new feature by the BBC. The company then realized that it could charge pet owners a hefty sum of money to “save” their furry cells (and sell more to complete the cloning process). ViaGen charges pet owners $ 1,600 for preserving a single pet cell, with the cost of the year-round cloning process approximately $ 35,000 per cat and $ 50,000 per dog. ViaGen says most clients choose to save their pet cells if they can clone later in life – although enough clients are opting for complete cloning to improve their business.

Sheep Dolly. (Photo: Tony Barrows / Wikimedia Commons)

The total number of ViaGen cloned pets is said to be in the hundreds, though the company will not disclose exactly how many animals it has created. “It has grown a lot since we first started and we are cloning more and more pets every year,” a ViaGen client service manager told the BBC. “We have puppies every week.” But if pet cloning doesn’t float to the top of your consciousness for a while, there’s a reason: “We don’t advertise a lot, a lot of it goes to word of mouth.”

ViaGen (and similar cloning firms, such as South Korea’s Sooam Biotech and China’s Sinogene) perform its cloning process by injecting the nucleus of a cell from a primitive animal into a donor egg whose genetic material has been removed. The farm then lays the egg into an embryo until that embryo can be safely implanted in the womb of a surrogate parent. The result is a identical genetic twin, despite actual age differences for decades.

Even Celebrities Pets are leaning towards cloning bandwagons (although this is not surprising, given that they can do it easily). Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Dealer controversially cloned their late dog Shannon in 2016, when Barbara Streisand used Viagen to create two clones. His The late dog Samantha two years later. TV personality Simon Cowell has also expressed interest in cloning his puppy, although it has been back in 2019, with no news on the matter since.

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