An­i­mal cloning, a self­ish act

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Lilly Zhang

If your pet was about to die, would you clone it? A Bei­jing­based biotech com­pany is now rolling out pet dog cloning ser­vices. For 380,000 yuan ($54,717.99), you too can own a ge­netic twin of your fa­vorite pet just by send­ing them a tis­sue sam­ple. The com­pany has al­ready signed up 20 clients and has cloned 10 dogs, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

As a cat owner my­self, I can un­der­stand why there are peo­ple who want to clone their pets. On the one hand, your pet lives with you, ac­com­pa­nies you and forges a con­nec­tion with you that al­most make it a fam­ily mem­ber.

On the other hand, pets have a sig­nif­i­cantly shorter life span than hu­mans, so no mat­ter how much you love them, they will only be with you for a short pe­riod. What’s worse is that all pets, be­ing pets, are mostly neutered, mean­ing they don’t have off­spring to carry for­ward our mem­o­ries of them as a hu­man fam­ily would. So if a new tech­nol­ogy can create an an­i­mal that is ge­net­i­cally the same as your pet, I can see why many peo­ple are in­ter­ested.

An­i­mal cloning does not seem to have as many eth­i­cal is­sues as the dread­ful idea of cloning hu­mans. You wouldn’t have to worry that a cloned an­i­mal has no place in the so­ci­ety or would be re­garded as a freak by other an­i­mals.

Un­til, that is, I learned how cloned pets are ac­tu­ally made, which in­volves tak­ing eggs out of a fe­male an­i­mal, re­plac­ing their nu­cleus with the genes of the an­i­mal be­ing cloned, and then putting the em­bryo back into a sur­ro­gate pet which will give birth to the cloned twin.

Since there is a fail­ure rate, two or three sur­ro­gate an­i­mals are usu­ally used for one clone. This means that to create a clone of your pet, sev­eral an­i­mals of the same species and breed need to suf­fer and do things against their will. They will have to live in a lab, be given hor­monal in­jec­tions and give birth to pups that will be taken away from them.

And the ex­or­bi­tant cost is also some­thing we must take into con­sid­er­a­tion. Cloning your pet will not pro­long its life. The new clone does not share any mem­o­ries or per­son­al­ity traits of the orig­i­nal pet. The only thing it does is to make you, the owner, feel bet­ter. It’s a self­ish act that hu­mans do to sat­isfy our im­me­di­ate emo­tional needs.

If you re­ally miss your old pet, adopt a new one that looks sim­i­lar and try to forge a con­nec­tion with it. I’m sure your mem­o­ries of your old pet will still be car­ried for­ward.

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