Magazine article The Spectator

Here Come the Cloned Pets

Magazine article The Spectator

Here Come the Cloned Pets

Article excerpt

The super-rich are already bringing beloved dogs and horses back to life. Soon the rest of us will be able to do it too

How much do you love your dog? Do you secretly wish, as he or she grows older, that you could have another just the same? I'll bet that tens of thousands of Brits feel this way -- and soon their dreams could come true.

When most of us last thought about it, cloning was an off-putting and futuristic prospect. Dolly the sheep was the poster girl, and things didn't turn out too well for her.

But times change, science creeps on, and last year a Brit called Rebecca Smith had her beloved dachshund, Winnie, cloned in South Korea. The going rate for Mini-Winnie would have been £60,000, but Rebecca won a competition and so -- except for the obligation to appear in a TV documentary about the process -- Mini came for free.

£60,000 sounds steep, but costs will almost certainly plummet, as they do with any new technology. And one reason we can be sure that cloning is the future is that it's already very much in the present.

Cloning is banned in the racing world -- there's too much cash at stake, and too many opportunities for scams. But in polo, cloning a prized pony is becoming increasingly popular. One of the world's top players, Adolfo Cambiaso, has cloned dozens of his favourite horses with great success. Cambiaso is so keen that he has become a partner in a cloning company, Crestview, which has its own laboratory near Buenos Aires. One day, he's said, he'd like to play in an entire match that involves only cloned horses. They are turning out to be in hot demand. In 2010, a clone of one of Cambiaso's best horses, Cuartetera, sold for $800,000.

Polo has set a precedent -- and naturally other equestrian sports are clamouring to join in. The Olympics in Rio next year will theoretically be the first Games at which clones would be permitted to compete; equestrian sports' governing body, the FEI, changed its rules in 2012. A clone of Tamarillo -- the event horse who competed with William Fox Pitt at the Athens Olympics, and who died this summer -- was born two years ago, and although he would be too young for 2016, Tomatillo would be more than ready by 2020.

Poor Tomatillo may never get the chance, though -- because breeding's where the money is. …

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