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Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 18, 2011
A heroic pig who survived more than a month buried under rubble after the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan province has been successfully cloned, according to a report Sunday.
Scientists in the southern city of Shenzhen performed the experiment on Zhu Jianqiang, or "Strong-Willed Pig", and produced six offspring with DNA identical to their dad, who was hailed as a national hero following his harrowing ordeal, the Sunday Morning Post reported.
The births over the past few weeks of six piglets happened even though Zhu had been castrated before the quake, suffered severe trauma from being buried for 36 days, and is five years old -- or about 60 in human terms.
"But the wonderful pig surprised us again," Du Yutao, the leader of the cloning project, told the Post.
The 330-pound (150 kilogram) hog reportedly survived in the ruins of its sty by chewing charcoal and drinking rainwater.
His offspring reportedly bear a striking resemblance to their dad, including a birthmark between their eyes, the Post reported.
The piglets will likely be paired off and sent to a museum and a genetic institute, it said.
An 8.0-magnitude quake rocked Sichuan and parts of neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces on May 12, 2008, killing tens of thousands and flattening swathes of the province.
The Clone Age - Cloning, Stem Cells, Space Medicine
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