China Has Successfully Cloned Its First Kitten

China introduces its first cloned kitten. Meet Garlic 2.0, the first feline cloned by a company in Beijing. Read the whole story here.

Huang Yu is a 22-year-old Chinese businessman who was devastated by the sudden death of his cat, Garlic. He sought the services of a pet-cloning company in Beijing, called Sinogene, that has already cloned over 40 dogs. Even though the firm had experience in dog cloning, according to researchers, things are a bit more complicated when it comes to cats.

"The reproductive and physiological characteristics of cats are different from those of most animals. Because cats are not spontaneous ovulation animals, they are one of the few ovulation-inducing animals," said veterinarian Shi Zhensheng. "Their reproductive cycle is special and cloning techniques are difficult. The operation is cumbersome. This successful cultivation of cloned cats is one of the few successful cases in the world, marking China's major step in the field of cloning."

Huang Yu had already buried Garlic, the original cat, when he decided to clone his beloved pet. He had to unearth its corpse and keep in in his freezer until an employee from Sinogene came for a DNA sample. He also had to pay $35,000 for the whole process, but it was worth it.

After almost one year of efforts, scientists managed to transfer an embryo to a surrogate cat. 66 days later, Garlic 2.0 was delivered via natural birth, on July 21, 2019. The 'copycat' has been observed for a month, and scientists say Garlic 2.0 is in good condition and acts just like naturally bred kittens.

Its owner is happy to have a copy of its late cat and says it brings him comfort that it has the same genes.

"Its name will continue to be called Garlic because in my heart I have always felt that the cloned kitten is the continuation of its life."

"I think that the original intention of each owner to clone their pets will be different. Each cat is an independent individual and has his own personality," said Yu.

Research in cloning has seen a huge development in the past years. Last year, Chinese biologists successfully cloned two macaque monkeys, the first true clones of primate species. Researchers are also trying to clone a wooly mammoth, and Siberian-based scientists are working on cloning a 40,000-year-old preserved foal.

Besides bringing back your deceased pet, animal cloning could have many applications. For example, endangered species could be saved through cloning, in the near future.

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