Dorrit Moussaieff, wife of former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, intends to clone the dog Sámur, RÚV reports. Eleven-year old Sámur is well remembered by Icelanders as he never strayed far away from his owner during his presidential reign, often greeting visitors to presidential abode Bessastaðir merrily. Ólafur Ragnar revealed this in a radio interview this morning.
Ólafur Ragnar served as President of Iceland for a record five terms, between 1996 and 2016. Ólafur is now the serving Chairman of the Arctic Circle, a non-profit organization which aims to address issues such as climate change and melting sea ice and how they affect the Arctic. In the interview, the former President discussed the recently finished Arctic Circle convention which took place in Reykjavík, before the interview took a personal turn.
Cloned in Texas
A sample of eleven-year old Sámur has already been sent to a cloning facility in Texas which has developed cells from the sample. Sámur can be cloned at anytime from those cells. "Sámur has become quite old, as he is eleven years old. So Dorritt decided to clone him. There are two companies in the world that clone dogs. One is in Texas and the other one in South Korea", Ólafur said. He continued, "We went to a veterinarian. A sample was taken from his skin and sent to Texas. They have cultivated cells already and whenever we want, or whenever we're ready, we can clone a new Sámur. Dorritt decided not to do it until Sámur had passed away. I don't know whether Sámur would be the first dog in Iceland to be cloned."
"What I think is a bit eerie, if I may say so as I believe this science is interesting and enjoyable, is that we can negotiate with these companies to store the samples for decades for a relatively low sum. I've told my grandchildren that when they possess their own home, and have founded their own family, they can order their very own Sámur from Texas", Ólafur commented.
The decision to clone Sámur has already raised some eyebrows in Iceland as the procedure raises ethical and scientific questions, Vísir reports. Pet cloning is quite controversial and is still a relatively new phenomenon as the first pet was cloned in 2005. Smithsonian Magazine has covered pet cloning and enlisted reasons as to why the cloning process is dubious both ethically and scientifically. See more here.
Kári Stefánsson, President and founder of Icelandic genetic company deCode Genetics, believes it's unlikely the dog will behave similar to Sámur, Rúv reports. The procedure will cost about ISK seven million ($58,000 / €51,000) and will create a sort of an identical twin to Sámur, according to Kári.
"If people want to have a critical outlook on the matter, then it's in some way weird that someone believes their pets are so more remarkable than other pets that they should be cloned. I believe that in itself there is nothing wrong with it but it is of course a luxury which only the super-rich in this world can afford, and those who have less cannot", Kári commented.