China clones 'Sherlock Holmes' police dog to cut training times

A researcher interacts with Kunxun, a dog cloned from a police dog. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Scientists in south-west China's Yunnan province have cloned what they called the "Sherlock Holmes" of police dogs in a programme they hope will help cut training times and costs for police dogs, state media reported on Wednesday (March 20).

The dog, named Kunxun, was cloned from a police sniffer dog by the Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Company and the Yunnan Agricultural University, with support from the Ministry of Public Security, the state-owned tabloid Global Times reported.

Sinogene is hoping to make it possible to achieve "volume production" of cloned police dogs in order to significantly reduce training times, the company's deputy general manager Zhao Jianping told the Global Times, but he added that cloning costs remain a major obstacle.

Kunxun, now three months old, will undergo extensive training in drug detection, crowd control and searching for evidence, and will become a fully fledged police dog in about seven months, the official China Daily said.

Training usually takes about five years and costs as much as 500,000 yuan (S$100,700), with no guarantee of success, the paper said, citing an animal expert at the Yunnan Agricultural University. The paper did not say how much a cloned dog would cost.

South Korean scientists created the world's first cloned dog in 2005, and two years later, the country began employing cloned labrador retrievers to sniff out drugs for the customs service, China Daily said.

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