A Chinese businessman, who couldn't bear the loss of his beloved cat who died of a urinary tract infection at age 2, decided to clone his dead pet for $34,000.
Huang Yu sought the services of Beijing-based Sinogene, a commercial pet-cloning company that has already cloned more than 40 dogs at a cost of about $53,000 each, reported the New York Post.
Yu's copy cat, born July 21 with the same white-and-gray fur pattern as Garlic, ran him about $35,000. It was the company's first successful cat clone
Yu said that he'd already buried the original cat in January when he decided to go through with the cloning. But first, he had to unearth Garlic's corpse, and put the animal in his freezer until an employee from Sinogene could come and take a DNA sample.
The morbid prep work was all worth it in the end, though.
When asked about the reason behind his unusual step, Yu said: "In my heart, Garlic is irreplaceable. Garlic didn't leave anything for future generations, so I could only choose to clone."
To create Garlic 2.0, scientists took skin cells from the original Garlic and implanted them into feline eggs, producing 40 cloned embryos.
Chen Benchi, the head of Sinogene's experiments team, told the Times that the embryos were then placed in surrogate cats, which led to three pregnancies, though only one made it to full term.
Though pets have been cloned in other parts of the world, such as South Korea, Britain and the US, industry experts say China's first cat clone is a milestone for the commercial cloning sector, which is increasingly attracting private pet owners, and not just high-profile animal lovers, such as Barbra Streisand who paid $50,000 for a clone of her dog, Sammie.
Sinogene CEO Mi Jidong told AFP: "In fact, a large proportion of customers are young people who have only graduated in the last few years. Whatever the origin of pets, owners will see them as part of the family. Pet cloning meets the emotional needs of young generations."
Sinogene says it hopes to use its technology for public interest, such as the viability of cloning endangered giant pandas or South China tigers, though Mi believes that endeavor "will be quite difficult" and take "more time."