It is popularly known that humans are the majority population that has to deal with the condition Down syndrome. But in recent decades, it has been seen that the state of Down syndrome has spread to the animal kingdom as well. Though the numbers are quite limited, it is there. 

What Is Down Syndrome? 

What Is Down Syndrome? 

Down syndrome is a genetic condition where the person is born with an additional chromosome. The main cause of Down syndrome is the extra chromosome that is also known as Trisomy. Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21

Today we are discussing Down syndrome in animals and whether or not it is a life threat. Animals with Down syndrome are present in a few but are not common in most species. 

The only animal that has a chance of Down syndrome is Apes. Apes usually have 24 chromosomes, and their chromosome 22 is very similar to human trisomy 21. 

Animals With Down Syndrome: Myth or Reality? 

Animals With Down Syndrome: Myth or Reality? 

In recent years,  it has been a trend to look up ‘animals with down syndrome’ on the internet.  There are pages, images, and videos dedicated to the theory of animals that are born with Down syndrome disorder. 

Among the results that pop up on the internet about Down syndrome in animals are Kenny the Tiger and Otto the Cat. 

The Truth About Kenny And Otto

Two of the most famous claimed “animals with down syndrome” are Kenny the Tiger and Otto the Cat. But the real question is whether they were actually dealing with Down syndrome or it was just a money-making stunt played by the owners. 

Kenny the Tiger

Kenny the Tiger

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris

Speed: 49 – 65 km/h 

Lifespan: 8 – 10 years

Order: Carnivora

Mass: 90 – 310 kg

Conservation Status: Endangered (Population decreasing)

The story of Kenny the Tiger began in 1998 on a tiger farm in Arkansas. The discovery of the farm came to place when a number of species were slaughtered for their meat and fur in Europe. 

Inbreeding of tiger cubs is happening illegally to sell them off at low prices on the internet. Kenny is the result of a similar inbreed. White tigers are, anyways, quite rare, which makes them very valuable and worth a lot of money. 

But Kenny is the product of breeding two Royal Bengal tigers that had recessive genes of pigmentation. It is well-researched that inbreeding in captivity usually results in one in 30 chances that the baby will be born healthy. 

For the rest 29 in question, they are born with certain deformities such as abnormal limbs, cross-eyed, and even problems in breathing and even chewing. 

Kenny’s parents were brother and sister, and since white tigers are so unique and rare, they were forced to mate with each other. Except for Kenny, all of his other siblings were stillborn. 

Due to the disfigured shape of Kenny’s face, although being a white tiger

Although the breeders tried to claim that Kenny was born with Down syndrome, that was definitely not the case at all. On the contrary, Kenny had all the signs of forced inbreeding. Kenny, the down syndrome tiger, died in 2008, after his long battle with melanoma at the age of 10. 

Otto the Cat

Otto the Cat

Family: Felidae

Gestation Period: 58 – 67 days

Lifespan: 12 – 18 years 

Order: Carnivora

Phylum: Chordata

Kingdom: Animalia

Otto was the name of the Turkish cat who was born in Turkey and allegedly was the second animal with Down syndrome. The tragic life of Otto the Cat with Down syndrome went viral after he died after two and a half months after being born.

A veterinarian in Turkey diagnosed Otto to be the first cat to be born with Down Syndrome. But was the diagnosis correct or just a  publicity stunt to boost traction? 

Feline experts have claimed that a cat cannot have Down syndrome since a cat only has 19 chromosomes. So it is not possible for cats to have a genetic mutation. 

Other Animals With Down Syndrome

While the story of Kenny the Tiger and Otto the Cat is thought-provoking and certainly very famous, there are other animals with Down syndrome as well. Without wasting time, scroll down to check out the top animals with Down Syndrome. 

1. Down Syndrome In Monkeys:

Kingdom: Animalia

Order: Primates

Class: Mammalia

Phylum: Chordata

Infraorder: Simiiformes

Kanako the monkey was born in imprisonment as a resident of the Kumamoto Sanctuary. After her birth, she displayed a few qualities that, at best, can be termed as ‘strange’ – these qualities separated her from the other chimps. For instance, her eyes appeared to be crossed, and she also created waterfalls when she was one. 

Down Syndrome In Monkeys

By the time she was seven, she had become completely visually impaired. Farther, she also displayed immature teeth and anomalies. Later, ongoing tests revealed that Kanako basically had the third duplicate of trisomy 22, also known as chromosome 22.

2. Koala:

Scientific name: Ursidae

Family: Ursidae

Order: Carnivora

Kingdom: Animalia


Koalas are notorious creatures primarily hailing from Australia. Typically known as a ‘bear,’ Koalas are tree-climbing creatures that are marsupial, that is, a vertebrate accompanied by a pocket to improve posterity. However, these Koalas have a fluffy appearance with hair very similar to that of a sheep’s coarse fleece. 

There is a theory that Koalas can rest a lot because they ‘become inebriated on gum leaves.’ Fortunately, this is absolutely incorrect. 

These creatures spend the majority of their time resting since it does require a whole lot of energy needed for processing a diet that’s low on nourishment, harmful, and sinewy. Dozing is naturally the most impactful way of monitoring energy for these creatures. 

3. Beluga Whale:

Mass: 1,400 kg 

Lifespan: 35 – 50 years

Scientific name: Delphinapterus leucas

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Monodontidae

Phylum: Chordata

Kingdom: Animalia

Beluga Whale

Beluga Whales are popularly known for their scope of vocal sounds and white tone, obtaining the ‘canary of the ocean’ title for them. These creatures are amiable and can shape a gathering to move, cooperate, or chase. 

These creatures can be found in the Arctic as well as the sub-Arctic waters of the United States and near Alaska. Naturally, these animals feel most at home when they are close to bays and seaside coves and when they can move around freely in freshwater and salt. 

Beluga whales have a layer of fat that is very thick and has a unique toughness that helps them to survive the freezy waters and icy climate of the Arctic. 

But these whales are absolutely powerless when it comes to facing numerous dangers and stressors, including provocation, contamination, connections related to fisheries, infection, environment debasement, different types of human interference, predation from different executioner whales, gas and oil investigation, and more. 

Animals With Down Syndrome: Debunking The Theory

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosome cells; Down syndrome generally appears on the 21st chromosome and makes three copies of that chromosome. This is what changes the genetic characteristics of humans. 

But for animals, it is different, most animals don’t have 21 pairs of chromosomes, and most have only 19 pairs. So it is highly possible that for animals like Kenny and Otto, their deformity was due to some genetic mutation or some hormonal imbalance or deficiency. 

Other than Otto and Kenny, there have been other claims of cute animals with down syndrome over the years, but none of them were ever properly diagnosed or even researched. So these make it hard to take the claims seriously. 

Claims of a down syndrome dog, a giraffe with down syndrome, and also down syndrome cows are very common claims than others. 

Quasi-Down Syndrome In Apes

Down Syndrome In Apes

Though we can rule out animals with Down syndrome, a myth created to extort money out of people in the name of uniqueness, there is only one animal that has the possibility of being born with Down syndrome, and that is an Ape.

Apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes, while humans have 23 pairs. Down syndrome usually duplicates the 21s pair of chromosomes in humans. 

Studies and diagnoses have shown that the 22nd pair of chromosomes in Apes are duplicated, similar to those in humans. So the Down syndrome monkey may exist. 

Wrapping Up!

Although the internet has made it a sensation about dubbing that animals with Down syndrome exist, it is not true. The whole theory is a myth created to make money out of those poor animals. 

Down syndrome is, for the most part, a disorder that affects human beings and not most other mammals. But it has been seen that Down syndrome monkeys and apes do exist. 

If you find this article helpful in any way, let us know in the comment section below. 

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Nabamita Sinha
Nabamita Sinha loves to write about lifestyle and pop-culture. In her free time, she loves to watch movies and TV series and experiment with food. Her favorite niche topics are fashion, lifestyle, travel, and gossip content. Her style of writing is creative and quirky.

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