THERE’S MORE TO LIFE
As I flipped through the pages of the August 2015 issue of Vanity Fair, I came across an article about cloning. In the piece, titled ‘How Champion-Pony Clones Have transformed the Game of Polo’ we are introduced to Champion polo player Adolfo Cambiaso and we learn of the traumatic event that triggered Cambiaso’s cloning company Crestview Genetics.
Following a fierce match, Cambiaso and his beloved stallion Aiken Cura made their way to the stables. As they did so, the exhausted stallion went limp beneath his owner. The champion’s front leg suddenly gave out. Cambiaso begged the veterinarian to
Save this one whatever it takes!
The leg was amputated below the knee, and eventually, the horse had to be euthanized.
Before his prize horse was laid to rest, Cambiaso requested to have a skin sample taken by making a puncture in the stallion’s neck. The sample was then sent to a laboratory and frozen.
An identical replica of the prize stallion- called Aiken Cura E01 is the result of those frozen cells. The younger stallion has already begun to breed and is training for competition. Cambiaso’s company ‘Crestview Genetics’ has created more than twenty-five replicas of champion horses that are being bred to create more champion horses.
Founder of Crestview Genetics, Texan Alan Meeker says,
I did the math and realized it would take me $100 million and 50 years to get the quality of horses I wanted through conventional breeding,” he says. “I decided I didn’t want to spend either.
Breeders are concerned about the effect cloning will have on the market, and polo players are worried they will need to clone to remain competitive.
As outlined in the article, the body that governs polo competition is extremely progressive allowing breeders and players to experiment with any breeding technology that might elevate the level of play. More important, in show jumping or dressage a rider competes on one horse, but polo players often use more than ten horses in a single match.
The day before cloning, a truck from a nearby slaughterhouse drops off scores of ovaries salvaged from dead horses. The Crestview lab scientists plug their noses to cope with the stench and scrape out the enormous ovaries with a spatula to remove the eggs and place them in an incubator.
I abhor sporting activities that put the lives of animals at risk. Such as, the Kentucky Derby, the Omak Stampede Suicide Horse Race in Omak, Washington, and the Calgary Stampede are examples of such events. Omak resulting in the death of twenty-three horses.
What possesses people to participate in these abominable events and how can people stand by and watch such carnage?
Also of concern (to me), is the creation of ‘genetically modified champions’ and how readily it seems these champions are being made. I find this business highly disturbing. A process that could once mastered, be used to save the lives of many (humans and animals) through organ replication is being practiced to line the pockets of wealthy equine enthusiasts. $800,000 was paid for a clone of Cambiaso’s mare, Cuartetera, at an auction.
Another of Cuartetera’s clones – Cuartetera 01 was ridden by Cambiaso at last year’s Palermo Open. When asked why the mare was not given a name of her won, Cambiaso replied, “She is Cuartetera, not any other horse.”
Are these clones merely replacements? Do they not deserve to be treated as individuals rather than living in the shadow of a predecessor – with incredible pressure to live up to certain expectations? Individuality is what I love most about my animal companions. Sadly, loss is part of life. I hope children don’t come to believe that ‘Fluffy’ can simply be replaced and the process of cloning diminishes the existence of beings.
Will natural reproduction cease altogether? What will happen to substandard mares and stallions replaced by clones? Will these and aging or injured horses simply and without hesitation, be disposed of? How long will it be before the laws against human cloning are overturned?
When questioned about cloning humans, the men of Crestview are in agreement, no matter the gobs of money thrown at them, they’ll steer clear of human replication.
“The individual who asked me to clone a human was extremely affluent,” Meeker says. “Those type of people don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They keep looking until they get a ‘yes.’ ” For now, they will have to look elsewhere.
Thank you Gillian of GillyFace Photos for another amazing Project Photo!
WARNING: disturbing content contained in the following links.