Sámur, the dog who may or may not end up cloned, has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Dorrit Moussaieff, the former First Lady of Iceland, announced Sámur’s passing on Instagram, saying, “You were and always will be the love of my life.” Her love for Sámur is apparent—even her Instagram account‘s profile text is written from Sámur’s point of view.
Death may be forever, but this may not be the last we see of Sámur.
As reported, Dorrit has sent a DNA sample of Sámur to a company in Texas in order to clone him. The decision, made public by her husband during a radio interview, sparked a great deal of curiosity and commentary from the general public.
Kári Stefánsson, the CEO of genetics company deCODE, explained that cloning the dog is not really the same as making an exact copy of the dog they know and love. Rather, the clone of Sámur will be more like if the original had been a monozygotic twin. It is therefore unlikely the Clone Sámur will have the exact same personality as Original Sámur.
Further, there are a number of ethical questions raised by cloning one’s pet. It is clear, for example, that this service is undoubtedly one reserved for the upper class. Viagen Pets, the company which will clone Sámur, charges $50,000 for the service before sales tax.
As the Smithsonian pointed out last year, “the cloning process still requires numerous dogs to produce a single clone. Consider: Many cloned pregnancies don’t take hold in the uterus or die shortly after birth”, meaning many dogs will be produced and then ultimately put down in order to produce a viable clone.
Alexandra Horowitz, head of Columbia University’s Canine Cognition Lab, added that many people who clone their pets do not really understand what it is that they are getting, saying: “There might be some breed tendencies, and there certainly are tendencies that a genome will avail that makes a cloned dog maybe likelier than some other non-genetically similar dog to do a kind of thing. But everything that matters to us about the personality of a dog is not in those genes. Everything is in the interaction of that genome with the environment, starting from the time they’re in utero—just as with humans.”
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