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Chinese workshop creates replica of pets

Reporter: Xu Zhen 丨 CCTV.com

08-18-2016 15:12 BJT

People love their pets so much so that many owners are now cloning them. Not in the laboratory but with the help of a workshop in China. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy explains from the U.S. state of Colorado.

Michelle Tharp of Denver is devoted to her dog Mitch. In fact, that's probably an understatement.

"I like to say that he's a lab or a big dog stuck in a chihuahua's body." Michelle Tharp said, "He's got a funky name, a funky personality. He's just Mitch."

Mitch is 14 years-old so Michelle knows he's on his last legs. But she's not ready to let go of him just yet.

"I think he looks cute. I think he looks cute. Just like Mitch does."

Meet Mitch 2. A stuffed version of the original Mitch, right down to his tongue and the way he sits. He's a Cuddle Clone-a one-of-a-kind, plush replica of a beloved pet made in this workshop near Shenzhen, China.

"You know people are so attached to their pets," said Tharp.

Jennifer Williams certainly was, to her dog Rufus.

"I remember kind of lying on him one day and I was like, it'd be really cool Rufus to have a big, plush version of you," said Cuddle Clones CEO Jennifer Williams, "If I can make these cute and match their pet at the same time I just think people will love them. People were like oh my God that is the greatest idea I've ever heard or that's kind of creepy."

It took some trial and error but Jennifer finally hit on a winning formula. People submit photos of their loved ones online along with custom requests about what their clone should look like. Forty-five designers, sewers, cutters and others take it from there. The final product arrives at your door two months later.

"We can crank out about 250 a week right now," said Jennifer Williams.

''Cats and dogs are cloned most often. But they've also done cows, chickens and goats. Even rats,'' Hendrik Sybrandy said.

"We've had some weird creations. We had a half-giraffe, half-bear once. And they wanted to put angel wings on it so we did that," said Jennifer Williams.

For about half of her customers, like Christy Shimbara, a Cuddle Clone is a form of therapy, a way to remember a late pet. Christy's dog Honey used to beg for food. She said, "It was like just seeng her out of the corner of my eye. I was like Honey, no, go away, you can't have any, go away. I was like, what am I doing I'm talking to a stuffed animal."

Five Hundred to 1,000 Cuddle Clones are produced each month. Most are shipped to countries where English is spoken, including Asian nations. Jennifer thinks her creations are well-worth the price-249 U.S. dollars apiece.

Jennifer Williams said, "So this is Rufus."

Jennifer keeps hers close by. Michelle's may be the silent type but Mitch 2 is a hit with her friends.

"Yeah, they make fun of me all the time. They think I'm a little crazy," said Michelle Tharp.

''Crazy in a good way. Cloned or not, her pet will be by her side forever," Hendrik Sybrandy reported from Denver.

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