A controversial Korean laboratory has successfully cloned the world’s smallest living dog 49 times for a commercial breeder.
‘Miracle Milly,’ a six-year-old chihuahua who lives with her owner in Florida, weighed less than an ounce and could fit in a teaspoon when she was born.
The tiny pet, who entered the record books in 2013 and weighs just over a pound, is the smallest dog living in terms of height, standing at just 3.8in (9.65cm) tall.
She was cloned at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, in August last year.
The company, which reportedly charges $100,000 (£75,000) to bring a pet back to life, has cloned hundreds of pets.
Sooam claims it “heals the broken hearts” of grieving pet owners and tells customers it can “prolong the companionship with your dog by bringing back the memories that you have with your friend”.
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Milly’s owner, Vanesa Semler, told Caters News Agency: “She was chosen for being the smallest dog in the world.
“The original idea was to make ten clones in total, nine for research and one for us, but they decided to clone her more times.
“They want to find out why she was so small and then study her genes to find out what makes her so tiny.
“It’s amazing to be around all of her clones, they are so smart, very playful like Milly and have really similar personalities.”
The 38-year-old currently lives with 12 of the clones – Molly, Mally, Melly, Molly, Mumu, Mila, Mary, Mimi, Moni, Mini, Mela and Mulan – at her home.
David Kim, a researcher at the Sooam laboratory, said: “We will be working together with the director as well as four specialists from the world renowned Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) as well as other collaborating scientists to characterise the genetic and epi-genetic factors of the cloned Milly and the original Milly.
“The research data will be analysed to prepare to publish a scientific article.”
The research facility has also cloned sniffer dogs used by Russia’s security services and has ambitious plans to also try to recreate the woolly mammoth in the future.
The commercial cloning of animals remains a controversial topic due to animal welfare concerns and ethical issues.