“Juice” is a celebrity dog who has starred in dozens of movies and commercials in China.
Earlier this year, the furry fellow’s owner decided to clone him to extend the canine performer’s “legacy”.
Nine-year-old Juice is a charismatic mutt picked off the streets by animal trainer He Jun. The pooch was neutered from an early age and is unable to reproduce, so his owner has gone to a commercial cloning facility to create an exact duplicate of the celebrity canine.
“Juice himself is a piece of intellectual property with social influence,” He Jun told Reuters.
Sinogene is China’s first biotech company to provide pet cloning services. The business made headlines in May 2017 when they were able to clone gene-edited beagles. Now pet owners can cough up some 380,000 yuan (A$77,000) to clone their beloved pets.
After collecting skin samples from Juice’s lower belly, the company spent just a few weeks isolating his DNA and preparing an egg to be fertilised with the clone. They chose beagles to serve as surrogate mothers, and after several trials, a surrogate was successfully surgically impregnated in August.
Juice’s copy was born in September and stayed with its beagle surrogate mother in the lab for about a month before being handed over to He Jun at a small ceremony.
Juice 2.0 is now just over two months old and is alive and well.
“We believe he’ll be even better than the older Juice,” He Jun said.
Compared to commercial cloning facilities in other parts of the world, namely South Korea and the US, China’s biotech industry is growing rapidly and faces less regulatory oversight plus lower costs.
“On the government side, the image of this cloning industry is very high-tech, and definitely… is very supportive of those high-tech industries because of their high-profit-margin,” said Tin-Lap Lee, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Lead image by Kim Hester