Dipping back into Far Out Magazine’s ‘Hollyweird’ section, we’re revisiting a remarkable story from the home of icon Barbra Streisand who has been pushing the limits of scientific development.
Streisand, whose career spans six decades, a career which has been recognised with two Academy Award victories, explained to The Times that her dog, which was a Coton de Tulear breed, was close to death in 2017 and the Hollywood actor realised that she simply “couldn’t bear to lose her”.
Recalling the moment, Streisand said: “I think any pet lover will really understand this. I had to continue her DNA. There were no more curly-haired Cotons like Samantha—she was very rare.”
Remarkably, as if totally normal, she came to the conclusion: “In order to get another I had to clone her.”
To successfully complete her plan, Streisand lept into action and secured DNA samples from the mouth and stomach of her dog, Samantha, before her death.
Few details of the process m which Streisand undertook have been revealed but, after her plan became a reality, the actor ended up with two identical clones of her dog Samantha. Later, in an interview with Variety, Streisand added: “They have different personalities,” when discussing the new dogs, named Violet and Scarlett.
She added: “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness.”
While Streisand has held back information around the process of her dog cloning, Laura Jacques and Richard Remde became the first people in Britain to clone their dog just a few months before the actor followed the same path. The British couple explained that they sought out the help of a South Korean biotech firm called Sooam that cloned deceased dogs for £67,000.
“It was a scientific breakthrough,” Jacques told Buzzfeed after successfully cloning his dog named Dylan. “It had never been done before, and we just thought it was meant to be. We went to South Korea for the birth and it was just surreal.”
The process of cloning dogs has emerged, understandably, as a controversial topic. Given that the process of cloning animals remains largely unregulated, large numbers of animal advocacy groups have come forward to oppose the practice. “The Humane Society of the United States opposes cloning of any animals for commercial purposes due to major animal welfare concerns,” Vicki Katrinak, an animal research issues program manager at Humane Society once said.
Katrinak added: “Companies that offer to clone pets profit off of distraught pet lovers by falsely promising a replica of a beloved pet. With millions of deserving dogs and cats in need of a home, pet cloning is completely unnecessary.”
The process of cloning animals remains a curious one. While the FDA actively monitors the cloning of animals such as sheep and goats, dogs—and the difficult process of recreating their complicated reproductive systems—continues to blur the lines of acceptability.
John Woestendiek, the author of a book on dog cloning Scientific American, explained the process: “In addition to the tissue sample of the original dog, cloners will need to harvest egg cells from dogs in heat—maybe a dozen or so. And, after zapping the merged cells with electricity so they start dividing, they’ll need surrogate mother dogs, to carry the puppies to birth.”