Cloned Cat Sold To Woman For $50,000

We live in an age of selfishness and self indulgence. If the same amount of money were given to a pure devotee he could use it to benefit a lot of people. Anyway, here’s the article … 🙁

Colleen McCain Nelson
Dallas Morning News
Dec. 22, 2004 05:51 PM

DALLAS – The cat’s out of the bag – a North Texas woman paid $50,000 to have her kitty cloned.

Julie knew Nicky the cat was special.

So, the Dallas-area resident stored Nicky’s tissue in a California company’s gene bank. And when the firm, Genetic Savings & Clone, offered clients the chance to reproduce their precious pets for a price, Julie signed up.

This month, she became the first owner of a commercially cloned feline.

The copied cat – dubbed Little Nicky – was born in Austin, Texas, and presented to Julie Dec. 10.

Genetic Savings & Clone has not released Julie’s last name but reports that the airline industry employee is enamored with her new pet.

“I see absolutely no differences between Little Nicky and Nicky,” Julie told the company. The woman spoke through the firm and did not respond to requests for an interview.

Nicky the elder died at age 17 last year. But Little Nicky has picked up where his predecessor left off.

“When Little Nicky yawned, I even saw two spots inside his mouth, just like Nicky had,” Julie said. “Little Nicky loves water like Nicky did, and he’s already jumped into the bathtub like Nicky used to do.”

Genetic Savings & Clone is the only company to offer cloned pets to paying customers. The company previously funded cloning efforts at Texas A&M University. In 2001, that project produced the first clone of a household pet – a cat named Cc.

Earlier this year, Genetic Savings & Clone launched the “Nine Lives Extravaganza,” offering clients the chance to clone a cat for $50,000. Five feline lovers signed up this year, said company spokesman Ben Carlson.

Julie was the first client to receive her cat. Four other cats are in various stages of “production,” Carlson said.

Cloning Nicky, a Maine Coon, “was a huge milestone for our company,” Carlson said. “It’s thrilling for us.”

The prospect of made-to-order clones has raised questions among ethicists and animal rights activists. And scientists and animal advocates have noted that clones are susceptible to a number of health problems.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said cloned animals often have physical abnormalities and aren’t likely to live as long.

“It’s all done for no valuable social purpose,” he said.

Carlson said his company offers improved cloning techniques. And clients are cautioned about the pitfalls of cloning pets, he said.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about cloning,” he said. “We make sure our clients understand that we can’t give them their old pet back.”

Carlson likens clones to twins, telling clients that the animals should be similar but not necessarily identical.

The length of the cloning process, which involves producing an embryo and transferring it to a surrogate mother, varies but usually spans five to seven months for a cat, Carlson said. Genetic Savings & Clone hopes to make the process more efficient.

“We need to be able to bring the price down to really generate enough business to succeed,” he said.

Several hundred clients have deposited pet tissue in the company’s gene bank. Some are waiting for the price to fall, Carlson said. Others are eager for the company to begin cloning dogs.

Man’s best friend has not yet been replicated, but Carlson said his company is optimistic that it could accomplish that feat within a few months.

The possibility of pet owners paying top dollar to clone cats and dogs has raised concerns.

“There are enough available animals out there. It’s really unnecessary to go to these lengths,” said Anita Kelso Edson, media director for the SPCA of Texas in Dallas. “It’s disappointing. There’s a lot that could be done for $50,000.”

The SPCA’s adoption fees range from $80 to $185.

Carlson said that his company is simply responding to demand. And while he expects cloning’s popularity to grow as the price shrinks, he acknowledges that it likely will remain a fairly limited practice.

“This won’t have a statistically significant impact on the pet population,” he said. “And our clients come to us for something they can’t obtain from a pet shelter.”


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