A British couple got an unusual holiday present when they welcomed the birth a new puppy. What makes this puppy so unusual, you might ask? The dog was cloned from the DNA of the couple's beloved deceased boxer, Dylan.
Laura Jacques and Richard Remde of Yorkshire, England, made headlines when they paid nearly $100,000 to have two puppies cloned at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea using DNA from Dylan that had been sent to the firm two weeks after his death in June. This was noteworthy for being the longest period of time after an animal's death when DNA was successfully recovered for cloning; the previous record had been five days.
The first of the two pups, Chance -- named after a character in Disney's "Homeward Bound" -- was born on Dec. 26, Boxing Day in the U.K. The second puppy, named Shadow, is due to be born Tuesday. While several hundred cloned dogs have been created over the past decade, these are among the first destined for the U.K.
"I'm trying to get my head round the fact that this puppy has 100% of the same DNA as Dylan," Jacques told The Guardian newspaper. "I had Dylan since he was a puppy ... I mothered him so much, he was my baby, my child, my entire world."
One of the main researchers at the facility, Hwang Woo-suk, is a controversial figure in cloning. In 2004, he and former colleagues at the Seoul National University made claims in the journal Science that they created the first cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them, but their report was later discredited. In 2009, he was convicted of embezzling research funding as well as illegally buying human stem cells for this research.
Hwang announced the first successful dog cloning in 2005 -- an Afghan hound called Snuppy. Since then the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation has cloned hundreds of animals, including dogs, pigs and cows.
The proud couple in Britain took to social media, to provide tweet-by-tweet updates of the arrival of Chance. They created a Twitter account dedicated to the memory of Dylan -- @WeLovedDylan -- that gave the updates. They have since created an account for the new arrival, which is @ShadowIsMyTwin.
Cloning has generated controversy ever since the first cloned farm animal -- Dolly, the sheep -- was born in 1996.