A Look Back at Dolly the Sheep: The World’s First Cloned Animal

On July 5, 1996, Dolly the sheep made history as she became the world’s first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell! Her birth at Scotland’s Roslin Institute sparked worldwide attention and forever changed our perceptions of what cloning technology could do. Not only did her incredible story open up possibilities for pet owners everywhere but it also raised ethical questions about how this type of technology could be used in animals’ lives. Even though she had a limited life ahead due to health issues, Dolly pioneered advances that have allowed us to think differently when taking care pets today.

Dolly with Professor Sir Ian Wilmut
Credit: Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK / Dolly with Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, who led the research which produced her.

Dolly spent her entire life at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, and in that time she managed to produce six lambs: Bonnie (1998), Sally & Rosie (1999) as well as Lucy, Darcy & Cotton born all together in 2000. Unfortunately, at the age of 4, she started to feel stiff – arthritis setting it’s course late 2001.

On Valentine’s Day 2003, the world said goodbye to Dolly the Sheep. Sadly, after just 6.5 years of life (normally around 11-12 for her breed) due to progressive lung disease and arthritis caused by Jaagsiekte virus. While initially there were concerns about any relation between her being a clone and contracting this illness, Roslin scientist concluded otherwise because other sheep from the same flock had died with it as well–lung diseases are more prone when living indoors (which unfortunately happened since security reasons necessitated keeping Dolly inside).

Dolly The Sheep
Credit: Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK / Dolly having an ultrasound scan during pregnancy
Dolly The Sheep
Credit: Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK / Dolly the Sheep with her first born lamb, called Bonnie

Cloning in the Pet Industry

Dolly’s birth marked a revolutionary shift in the pet industry, offering a unique way to keep beloved companions alive. Cloning technology enabled owners keep beloved pets alive even after their passing. Some scientists believe that cloning could be the best way we have to preserve endangered species.

Musician Barbra Streisand famously cloned her dog Sammie twice – once from DNA from a sample he had been preserved in and again from a piece of his hair. Similarly, media personality Simon Cowell spent approximately £180,000 to collect and store genetic material from Squiddly, Diddly and Freddy to be cloned once they pass away. Among influencers, popular pets like Wander With Willow have adopted the technology as well, with Willow’s family becoming the world’s first wolf dog clones.

Barbra Streisand Cloned Dogs
Barbra Streisand with her cloned dogs
Simon Cowell Dogs Squiddly, Diddly and Freddy
Simon Cowell with his dogs Squiddly, Diddly and Freddy

Pet Cloning Controversy

Cloning pets has been a controversial topic in the scientific community and among pet owners. On one side, some argue that cloning beloved animals can help pet owners cope with their grief after the loss of a pet, while others argue that it is ethically wrong to clone animals who may not have the same lifespan or quality of life as their original counterparts. Cloning animals also raises ethical questions about whether or not it is right to recreate an animal who has already passed away, especially if the cloned pet ends up suffering from health issues due to its cloning process.

Cloned Pets Personality

Cloned pets, while having the same genetic material as the original pet, are not going to be the same in terms of personality and behavior. Our behaviors are shaped and molded by life experiences and circumstance. Many argue that it is impossible to “recreate” how we behave since each experience is unique.

Credit: @wander_with_willow IG

Pet Cloning Pros & Cons

One thing is for certain, humanity will move forward and technology with it. Dolly the sheep has left a lasting legacy for our world. Her birth brought about a new wave of possibilities in the field of genetics and biology.

What do you think about cloning pets? Yay or Nay?

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