It is popularly known that humans are the majority population that has to deal with the condition of Down syndrome. But in recent decades, it has been seen that the state of the down syndrome has spread to the animal kingdom as well. Though the numbers are quite limited, but it is there.
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?
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
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 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.
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
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 Ape are duplicated, similar to those in humans. So the down syndrome monkey may exist.
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.
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