On Feb. 14, a company called Genetic Savings and Clone announced the first successful cloning of a domestic cat.
This marks the first successful cloning of a pet of any type, and is a major accomplishment.
The company plans to eventually make pet cloning services available to the public, but until the technology is ready they are helping pet owners to store their pet’s genes for later cloning.
The first cloned cat, fittingly named CC for “carbon copy”, is a healthy kitten who plays, interacts with others, eats, and does all the things other kittens do.
This is promising news for pet owners who enjoy their pets enough to clone them, but cloning may not be able to fulfill their dreams.
Contrary to popular belief, cloning does not provide an exact copy of an animal: It produces a new, different animal that has the exact same genes as the gene donor.
Though many traits are determined by genetics, many distinctive qualities are unique. CC’s gene donor was a calico cat, yet CC has unique black and white markings.
Fur coloring, at least in cats, is determined by conditions in the womb rather than by genetics. Not only that, but a cloned animal starts out as a newborn and develops through life experiences its own personality and perception of the world.
A pet owner who has their beloved companion cloned would likely receive an animal that shared the same gene structure as their pet, but few other qualities.
While Genetic Savings and Clone began with the desire of one wealthy founder to clone a dog named Missy, the company has nobler intentions of cloning, or at least gene banking, wildlife and endangered species.
Other cloning endeavors are directed at species including African bongo antelope, Sumatran tiger, giant panda and the Bucardo mountain goat of Spain that entered extinction in the year 2000.
Since humans have brought about the extinction of countless species, we should attempt to preserve wildlife in any way we can.
Of course, we still must refrain from encroaching further into the world’s natural lands and the animals’ natural habitats that is something that cannot be cloned.
Much of the controversy around cloning comes from the idea of human cloning. Most scientists leave human cloning to a theoretical possibility one that they hope will never be tested.
Human cloning, if it is ever attempted, could have some very positive applications. Human cloning could provide an abundant source of transplant organs, and could provide a way for couples unable to reproduce to have children.
Although their code of ethics strictly forbids any form of human cloning, Genetic Savings and Clone compares cloning to the once-controversial procedures of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination.
A cloned pet or child would be an entirely new being, despite the fact that it is genetically closer to its parent than the average pup, kitten or child.
If used responsibly, human cloning could actually be a good thing, but the technology is not ready to reliably attempt human cloning and it will be some time before we must consider breaking that taboo.
At present, however, we should direct this technology to preserving endangered species and restoring that which we have destroyed.
Pet cloning generates positive public interest and draws investors, but the greatest possibility this technology holds is the preservation of endangered species.