The pet industry is massive, with owners spending thousands each year for lavish lifestyles, designer outfits, and premium food for their beloved furry companions. But with a short lifespan and a host of health issues (depending on their breed or species), many of these pets can also become a major source of heartbreak and grief at the end of their lives. Enter pet cloning: the science that may possibly keep pets and owners together forever.
Pet cloning context
In 2005, an Afghan hound, named Snuppy, became the first successfully cloned dog in the world, a miracle created by a group of researchers from Seoul National University. A decade later, the rise of pet cloning companies has given birth to a new trend and a new debate on animal rights.
The science is relatively straightforward: a tissue biopsy is performed on the original dog, and the cells are combined with eggs from a surrogate dog. The embryos are then implanted in the surrogate through a minor surgery. Customers are expected to pay about $50,000 USD for a clone, which takes an average of two months to be born. But for owners like Barbara Streisand, who cloned her dogs in 2017, it’s worth it.
The demand for pet cloning is definitely not just from celebrities. Beijing-based animal cloning biotech company, Sinogene, is targeting to deliver 500 clones every year for the next five years to both local and foreign clients. The government of China is supporting this field of science by including increased DNA research in its five-year plan. Likewise, in the US, Texas-based, ViaGen Pets, currently has a one-year waiting list. Over time, this pet cloning service may become affordable enough so that the average person can provide a certain level of immortality to their pets.
With clones becoming the most expensive “breed,” this technology may change how the pet industry will operate in the future, expanding from traditional products and services to specialized offerings for clones.
Furthermore, the scientific advancements made for this industry may also open doors for more ambitious cloning ventures, such as cloning extinct animal species or even human beings.
Applications for pet cloning
Affected industries may include:
- Pet breeding, as there might be lower demand for this service once cloning becomes more readily accessible to the masses.
- Genetic engineering, with genetic edits becoming the next big step for longer pet lifespans.
- Veterinary practices, as doctors may have to undergo specialized training for handling clones.
Questions to comment on
- If you’re a pet owner, would you make use of this service once it becomes more affordable? Why?
- What do you think might be the challenges of having a cloned pet?