The superstar singer who cloned her dog

Barking mad? Barbra Streisand’s third dog, Miss Fanny, is a distant cousin of her original pet, Samantha.

Would you clone your pet? When Barbra Streisand’s beloved dog Samantha died last year, she used the dog’s DNA to clone two puppies. They look identical — but they have “different personalities”.

What’s happening

Barbra Streisand is an award-winning singer, actor and Broadway star. This week, during a photo shoot with her dogs for Variety magazine, she said the story should be called “Send in the Clones”. She explained that two of her puppies are clones of her Coton de Tulear dog Samantha, who died last year.

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Streisand said that the dogs were created using cells taken from Samantha’s mouth and stomach. They are named Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, because when they arrived she had to dress them in different colours to tell them apart.

Cloning a dog involves inserting its DNA into an egg, and then implanting that egg into a surrogate mother. The egg grows into a puppy which looks identical to the original dog. However, it is not the same animal — Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett may look like Samantha, and each other, but Streisand says they have their own personalities.

Although we do not know for sure which cloning company she used, the American firm Viagen charges around $50,000 to clone a dog. (Cats cost $25,000.)

Would you ever clone your pet?

Some say…

Absolutely! Dogs are like members of the family — over the years, we develop a special bond with them, and it is truly devastating when they die. We should be thrilled that scientists have finally found a way of easing that pain. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, cloning your dog will keep its memory alive for many more years.

Others think…

What a ghastly idea. First of all, cloning dogs is unnecessary when thousands of pets are waiting for homes in animal shelters. Secondly, the process only works about a third of the time, which means there can be several miscarriages before a healthy dog is made. Surely it is better to accept that pets die, mourn their loss, and then move on.

You Decide

  1. Would you clone your pet when it died?

Activities

  1. Create a brochure for a pet cloning company, which explains how the process works, what it costs, and the questions you should ask before going ahead.

Some People Say...

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Roger Caras

What do you think?

Word Watch

Broadway
A street in New York City which is home to its top theatres. The word is often used to refer to America’s theatre industry, especially musicals.
Clones
An animal which has been made by copying another animal’s genetic information.
Cells
The building blocks of living things.
DNA
The chemical which contains a living thing’s genes.
Surrogate
A mother pregnant with a baby that is not hers.
Devastating
Destructive, and so, very upsetting.
Miscarriages
Failed pregnancies.
Mourn
Grieve.

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