Korean scientists on Thursday said they have successfully cloned Trakr, a dog that became a hero by rescuing victims out of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The cloning took place in cooperation between Sooam Biotech Research Foundation of South Korea and California-based BioArts International that provided the dog's DNA samples to its partner. The Institute said that the team, led by former veterinary professor at Seoul National University Hwang Woo-suk, who produced the world’s first canine clone in 2005, cloned the rescue dog free of charge with all five puppies being given to James Symington, a retired Canadian police officer and the original owner of Trakr.
The dogs were cloned for Symington after he submitted an essay for a contest called the Golden Clone Giveaway run by BioArts International, by writing to the company and explaining why Trakr was an ideal candidate for cloning. The company’s other dog cloning clients have paid an average of $144,000 to clone their canine pets, but Symington will receive his puppy clones of Trakr for free.
The German Shepherd rescue dog, died in April at the age of 16, after suffering from nerve degeneration from long exposure to toxic gas at the scene of 9/11.
Sooam in Yongin, south of Seoul, said that original DNA from the German Shepard was inserted into a surrogate cell that was then injected into female dogs.
Symington said he named the puppies after Trakr's qualities: Trustt, Valor, Solace, Prodigy and Deja Vu.
The puppies are expected to become rescue dogs and could open new horizons for cloning specialized canines that have done well in police and rescue operations, said a report.
The laboratory also stressed that the five puppies were exact copies of Trakr, with their DNA being checked by an independent third party laboratory.
BioArts International is a biotech startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with primary scientific labs in Beijing, custom micro-engineering operations in London, and key scientific partnerships in Seoul, South Korea, and other areas.