It is amazing to discover that tiny molecules known as DNA code for much of what we see in the living world. This applies to animals, plants and human beings. The world of genetics has gotten a big boost in recent times due to the advancements that have been made in technology. There are computers and software programs that are able to annotate whole genomes in a fraction of the time that it used to take to do such work. This has enabled biologists and scientists to be able to make interesting discoveries that could have a big impact on the lives of many animals, plants and human beings the world over.
Tiger Down syndrome
The white tiger is one of the rarest species in the world. This means that the number of such tigers in zoos in some countries like the United States of America is not big enough to ensure that the tigers get offspring who have a wide gene pool to develop traits from. The high demand for such tigers in zoos from curious tourists and animal lovers has put a lot of pressure on the authorities who manage such zoos. The fact that so few tigers are alive in the world means that zoos all over the country have resorted to inbreeding the few tigers they have in their cages, in order to get more little tigers to make tourists (who bring in revenue) happy.
However, the negative effect of such inbreeding is the fact that the probability of the offspring developing congenital disorders such as Down’s syndrome is very high indeed. In many cases, the congenital disorders might lead to premature death of the tigers, before they even come out into the world.
Down’s syndrome is a genetic disorder on chromosome number 21 in human beings. It leads to numerous negative effects on the human body, ranging from mental retardation to other physical limitations that will leave the human baby disabled for life. While tigers have 19 chromosomes, they still develop Down’s syndrome (tiger Down syndrome), especially if successive offspring are gotten from the same lineage of tigers, due to their confined state. By limiting the chances that the tigers have for meeting new mates out in the wild, the chances of these tigers getting recessive genes increases by multiple factors with each successive generation.
The end result will be the proliferation of tigers in zoos with multiple deformities, something that will put off the very tourists who wanted to see more of these exotic animals. Not many people will want to come see a Down syndrome tiger all the time. This should be sobering news for many zoo owners and managers.