Huang Yu, a Chinese businessman aged 22 years lost his beloved cat, Garlic. But now he has become the pet parent of Garlic II, a clone of late Garlic. Yu took the services of Sinogene, a commercial company involved in pet-cloning that is based in Beijing. It has already cloned over 40 dogs, each of which nearly costs 53,000 US Dollars. The copy cat of Yu which was born on July 21 has the same fur pattern of white and gray as of Garlic. It cost him approximately 35,000 US Dollars. This was the first cat that was successfully cloned by the company.
Yu informed the New York Times that he had buried Garlic, the original cat in the month of January. It died at an age of 2 years because of a UTI. At this moment, he decided to proceed with cloning. But before that, the corpse of Garlic had to be unearthed and kept in the freezer. After that, an employee from Sinogene came and took the sample of DNA. All this work was worth it in the end.
For Yu, Garlic was irreplaceable. He said that since Garlic did not leave anything for later generations, his only choice was to go for cloning. For creating Garlic 2.0, researchers took skin cells from Garlic and then implanted them in the feline eggs. They were able to produce 40 cloned embryos from this process. Chen Benchi, head of the experiment’s team at Sinogene said that the embryos were placed in surrogate cats leading to three pregnancies. In the end, only one made it full term.
Pets have been cloned in other nations such as Britain, South Korea, and the US. However, experts say that the first cloned cat of China is a huge milestone for the commercial cloning sector. This is attracting the private pet owners along with celebrity animal lovers such as Barbra Streisand who paid 50,000 US Dollars for cloning Sammie, her Maltipoo.
An increasing proportion of the customers are young people who have recently passed out of college. Pet cloning helps in meeting the emotional needs of younger people irrespective of the origin of the pets.
Sinogene hopes this technology can be used for cloning the endangered species such as giant pandas or South China tigers. However, this shall take some more time as it is a difficult endeavor. Chen Dayuan, panda expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that it is possible that cats can be surrogates for baby pandas who are smaller than the infant kittens.
Huang was disappointed a bit as the cloned kitten did not have a patch of black fur on its chin which the original cat had. However, he accepted it as every technology has some limitations.