Cat lovers who are heartbroken by the death of their beloved felines can now have them cloned for the mere sum of $35,000.
Huang Yu was devastated when his 2-year-old British shorthair named Garlic died, so rather than get a new cat, he decided to have Garlic cloned.
“My cat died of urinary tract disease. I decided to clone him because he was so special and unforgettable,” the cat owner Huang Yu told the Global Times.
The Beijing-based company started its experiment on cat cloning in August 2018, and Garlic, a British shorthair, was born on July 21, 66 days after an embryo was transferred to a surrogate mother, the company said at a press conference on Monday in Beijing.
The pet-cloning firm has made more than 40 pet dogs – a procedure that costs a hefty 380,000 yuan ($53,000), while the price for a cat comes in at 250,000 yuan ($35,000).
Mi Jidong, the company’s chief executive officer, told AFP that despite the high price tag, not all clients were high earners.
“In fact, a large proportion of customers are young people who have only graduated in the last few years,” he said.
“Whatever the origin of pets, owners will see them as part of the family. Pet cloning meets the emotional needs of young generations.”
To make the cloned animal share the same memories with the original, the company is considering the use of artificial intelligence or man-machine interface technology to store them or even pass the memories to cloned animals, the general manager of Sinogene said at the conference.
Sinogene deputy general manager Zhao Jianping said the successful cloning of Garlic will allow the company to officially start offering cat-cloning services, which is expected to cost 250,000 yuan ($35,400) each.
Zhao told the Global Times that several cat owners had already booked the service, hinting that the future market could be huge. The company also offers a dog cloning service, costing 380,000 yuan.
While pet cloning is illegal in many countries it has been approved in South Korea and the US, where singer Barbra Streisand announced last year she had cloned her dog.
The first major success in animal cloning was Dolly the sheep, born in Britain in 1996 as the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
In 2005, researchers in South Korea cloned the first dog. The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul says it has cloned some 800 pets and charges $100,000 each.