Many people mourn the losses of their beloved pets, saddened to think that they won’t get to enjoy their company anymore. However, a new trend is emerging among Instagram influencers who aren’t ready to say goodbye: cloning.
The Company Behind The Pet Clones
Photographer Courtney Udvar-Hazy started an Instagram account for her wolf-dog mix Willow. The account, @WanderwithWillow, has over 100,000 followers, but Willow is no longer the subject of the photos. Now, the photographer posts pictures of her new pet, Phoenix. The two-year-old dog-wolf hybrid is Willow’s clone.
In 2018, Willow was hit by a car and died. Udvar-Hazy made the decision to clone her beloved pet, contacting ViaGen Pets: the same company that famously cloned Barbra Streisand’s dog. The Texas-based company was started in 2016, cloning animals for upwards of $35,000.
ViaGen Pets uses the original animal’s cells to create an embryo which is then transferred to a surrogate mother. Through this process, Udvar-Hazy ended up with Phoenix, as well as five identical puppies that she gave to friends.
Clone Is ‘Not A Reincarnation’
For those interested in cloning their own pet, ViaGen Pets is able to clone dogs for $50,00, cats for $35,000, and horses for $85,000. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be getting an exact replica of your original animal. The clone will have the same DNA profile as the original but will develop its own personality and temperament.
“It is not a reincarnation,” Melain Rodriguez, ViaGen’s Client Service Manager, told Newsweek. “It is the essence of that original animal and I think that’s what our clients are looking to get out of cloning. I don’t think the majority of them are looking to replace that animal, they’re looking to get a part of that animal back.”
This all sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the process has been around for years. In 2005, Snuppy, the first-ever cloned dog, was born. Using stem cells from Snuppy, scientists were able to reclone him and create four more dogs in 2017.
Many Pet Instagrams Are Using Clones
Udvar-Hazy isn’t the only influencer who has turned to cloning. The account @ipartywithbrucewayne, which has 55,000 Instagram followers, uploads photos of four cloned chihuahuas who appear alongside the original, Bruce. Meanwhile, smaller petfluencer accounts like @clash_of_the_clones, @the_peanut_clones, and@baxter_the_clone openly advertise that the featured animal is a clone.
Tinkerbelle, a top Instagram pet with more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, posted in 2019 that the animal’s DNA was being stored for cloning purposes. This post was labeled a paid partnership with ViaGen Pets.