A firm offering to clone dead pet cats is to close, after selling a grand total of two of the moggies, including the first which we reported in 2004.
Depite a price slash from $50,000 to $32,000, Sausalito-based Genetic Savings and Clone (geddit?) was forced to send letters out announcing its closure at the end of the year. It admitted it was "unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable", reports The Bakersfield Californian.
It's thought unpredictable reproductive cycles and a high rate of attrition in cloned embryos meant the firm could not bring its cats in at an accessible price point.
Genetic Savings and Clone also failed in its attempts to clone dogs, a feat it had received backing from correspondence university billionaire John Sperling, who was after a clone of his beloved hunting dog Missy.
The venture had attracted criticism from animal rights and ethics groups because of the high failure rate and thousands of stray cats euthanised every year in America.
The Bakersfield Californian reports Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, said: "It's no surprise the demand for cloned pets is basically nonexistent, and we're very pleased that Genetics Savings and Clone's attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop. It's not just a bad business venture, but also an operation grounded on the misuse of animals."
Earlier this year biotech firm Allerca began selling "lifestyle pets". Allerca's attempts to genetically engineer allergy-free cats were abandoned in favour of a low tech selective breeding programme.
A message on Genetic Savings and Clone's answer machine is directing potential punters to Texas pet and livestock cloner ViaGen. ®