When you google “Animals with Down Syndrome” you’ll find countless articles, movies, and pictures that claim to show “inspiring” animals with this genetic condition, which causes a variety of physical and mental problems.
One in 1,000 newborns has down syndrome, which is among the most prevalent genetic diseases in people. You might be wondering if there are any animals that have the condition.
A short search will turn up some creatures that have gained notoriety for having characteristics resembling those of Down syndrome, thus it appears that the internet believes there are. The reality about these animals and Down syndrome could surprise you!
Are There Animals With Down Syndrome?
Does down syndrome exist in animals at all? Technically, no but very similar illnesses can manifest in both of them. The chromosomes in each human are home to the genetic material that makes them up. The DNA that makes up these chromosomes forms incredibly organized and complex structures.
They include every genetic sequence that we inherited from our parents. This genetic makeup typically dictates the characteristics of our bodies at birth and frequently the illnesses we can experience even later in life.
In each of their cells, humans contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosome 21 has an extra copy (either full or partial), which causes Down syndrome. As a result, the cell develops a trisomy, which is a condition in which an extra copy of a chromosome is present.
Due to its underlying cause, a third extra copy of chromosome 21, Down syndrome is often referred to as trisomy 21.
Technically speaking, animals cannot have the same genetic condition as people, even though they can have physical or developmental defects that are quite similar to Down syndrome. For starters, just because an animal possesses chromosome 21 doesn’t guarantee that it performs all human activities.
Expert Tip: In light of this, Down syndrome in humans does not always exhibit the same symptoms in animals when chromosome 21 is defective. In addition, chromosome 21 is not even present in many mammals. Cats, for instance, only have 19 chromosomes.
6 Animals with Down Syndrome – Like Conditions
Why are some animals listed online as having Down syndrome although we now know that Down syndrome cannot physically exist in animals? Mostly because when an animal is born with signs that resemble those of Down syndrome in people, people automatically believe that the animal also has that condition.
Some of the particular “animals with Down syndrome” that are regularly depicted online have even developed their own online fan bases. The most notable of them may be Kenny the tiger, a rare white cat that was saved from an illegal breeder by Turpentine Creek Wildlife Reserve in Arkansas in 2002. He resided there until his passing in 2008.
Many medical diseases exhibit symptoms that closely resemble those of people who have Down syndrome. Even though they all genuinely had various diseases, we came up with a list of 6 animals that have been popular for allegedly having Down syndrome.
Although it is a fallacy that animals have Down syndrome, apes are the only known mammal that occasionally displays a genetic condition at least similar to the syndrome. Humans have 23 chromosomal pairs, whereas apes have 24.
Additionally, some apes have been shown to contain an additional copy of chromosome 22, which is equivalent to chromosome 21 in humans. Trisomy 22 in chimpanzees was first recognized in a case study in 1969. Nearly 50 years ago, a chimpanzee was described that perished before turning two.
The second known down syndrome chimpanzee patient. Kanako was born in captivity in 1992 at the Kumamoto Sanctuary. Wildlife Research Centre, a facility that was later transferred to Kyoto University and given the new name. She was born with a congenital cardiac condition, which causes her to grow slowly, and she also has undeveloped teeth.
Kanako had cataracts before she turned one. and by the time she was seven, she was completely blind. Her vision issues include having crossed eyes and having a condition that causes her corneas to gradually weaken. These signs are typical in humans with Down syndrome as well.
It’s not totally evident how Kanako’s development has been impacted by trisomy 22, given this diagnosis was only recently made for her. For instance, despite the fact that many people with Down syndrome exhibit mental impairments. Kanako’s keepers claim the chimp shows little sign of this characteristic.
The oldest chimpanzee with trisomy 22 is now Kanako, who is 24 years old. In 1969, a chimpanzee with trisomy 22 was the only other case known, although it only lived for a short time less than two years.
How common Down syndrome is in chimps is unknown to scientists. They, however, believe the rate is not too dissimilar from that of humans.
You may be familiar with Kenny the tiger, who was saved in 2002 and spent his final years at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Reserve in Arkansas. Kenny passed away in 2008. Wide-set eyes, a mouth that wouldn’t close all the way, and a small snout made his face stand out as notably unusual.
He was sometimes referred to as the “tiger with Down syndrome” and became somewhat famous online.
Expert Tip: Kenny was particularly special because, in addition to his stunning white coat, he also had inherited facial defects, such as an unnaturally short nose and a wide face. White tigers are already very scarce.
Then, after looking at Kenny’s face, internet writers and social media users formed the very abrupt assumption that he had Down syndrome. In fact, you have to go carefully through Google results before you find pages that are presenting the truth: the idea that animals have Down syndrome is largely untrue.
In actuality, rather than chromosome abnormalities. Kenny suffered from hereditary facial deformities brought on by inbreeding. In the wild, white tigers are actually quite uncommon. But since they are so attractive, both zoos and fur traders want to keep them to capitalize on their fame.
Sadly, this leads to aggressive breeding strategies that depend on inbreeding to continue producing tigers with white fur. The American Zoological Association outlawed this practice in 2011 due to the unpleasant medical issues that might result from inbreeding and injure the animal.
Researchers have discovered that chromosomal abnormalities can occur in mice. They may acquire a second copy of chromosome 16 that causes symptoms resembling those of Down syndrome.
Nevertheless, it is hardly ever observed in populations of wild mice since offspring with this abnormality often pass away before birth. Only because they genetically engineered the conditions in lab mice to analyze them do researchers even know the potential exists.
These mice, which the researchers have given the name TcMAC21, are relatively simple and inexpensive to utilize in extended tests.
The resulting TcMAC21 mice exhibit a wide range of traits that are typical of Down syndrome in people, including a distinctive facial structure, a higher prevalence of congenital cardiac abnormalities, a smaller-than-normal cerebellum, and learning impairments.
The scientists issued a warning that no one animal model can accurately represent a human situation. They do, however, think that the TcMAC21 mouse model created in this study is a solid place to start when developing fresh, more effective methods of aiding those with Down syndrome.
Cats are probably the species that receive the most attention on social media when it comes to “Down syndrome pets.” But as we just mentioned, cats lack chromosome 21.
Here are three famous cats with their ailments:
Otto the Kitten
Following a veterinarian’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. Otto the kitten gained notoriety in Turkey. The cat’s facial features and the structure of his forehead, in Otto’s opinion, all indicate a hereditary disease.
However, the majority of feline specialists concur that cats do not have Down syndrome, even though they may experience another genetic disorder that is quite similar. Humans have a copy of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome.
In theory, cats cannot have Down syndrome because they only have 19 chromosomes, although they can get genetic mutations.
Otto sadly began violently spasming at the age of barely two and a half months and was transported to the hospital and placed in intensive care. Sadly, the doctors were unable to save him and he passed away of heart failure.
Lil the Bub Cat
Lil Bub was well recognized for her peculiar appearance, which included bulging eyes and a tongue that stuck out. She was born with various abnormalities, including dwarfism, and was saved as a feral kitten.
Due to her distinctive features, Lil Bub gained popularity online. She lived her entire life as a kitten due to her feline dwarfism. She also exhibited polydactyl traits, including an extra toe on each of her paws, an undeveloped jaw, and no teeth, which led her tongue to protrude from her mouth all the time.
Monty the Cat
Due to a genetic defect, Monty was born without a nasal bridge bone, which is how this odd animal acquired such a distinctive and endearing look. Despite having a sunken nasal bridge due to a chromosomal issue.
Monty the cat does not have Down syndrome. He sneezes frequently but is otherwise healthy and able to breathe regularly despite the “chromosomal anomaly.”
It can be unexpected to encounter a dwarf giraffe even though they are frequently thought of as the animal with the longest legs, but they do exist. These animals do not, however, suffer from Down syndrome. Their spine, arms, legs, and skull have irregularly shaped bones as a result of a hereditary condition called skeletal dysplasia.
Similarly, birth asphyxia can be another illness that can affect giraffes causing the infant to lose oxygen and preventing normal development. For instance, Julius the giraffe, who was born in the Maryland Zoo was born with a tongue that was paralyzed and a head that tilted to the right due to brain damage.
Although they can exhibit symptoms and signs that are comparable with or similar to the disorder, dogs cannot develop down syndrome. They can also develop other chromosomal abnormalities and genetic diseases, but not Down syndrome.
You may be wondering how we can be sure that dogs don’t have down syndrome. After all, we could only be sure if we conducted tests, which we haven’t done. We are certain that dogs cannot have down syndrome for a few reasons.
Dogs’ genetic makeup is different from ours in that they have fewer chromosomes than us. As a result, adding a second copy of chromosome 21 would not provide the same results. A dog would probably not survive if it did have a genetic defect like down syndrome.
Down syndrome, a genetic condition in which a human is born with an extra copy of a chromosome, cannot be transmitted to dogs, although other unusual diseases can.
These uncommon disorders can be divided into two groups: those that are inherited (transmitted through genes) and those that are congenital (resulting from faulty development during a pup’s development).
Large tongues are a typical Down syndrome symptom as well as a typical macroglossia symptom in dogs. Dogs with macroglossia often have excessively big tongues that protrude constantly from their mouths as a result of larger cells or muscle tension. Their tongues have a limited range of motion and might make breathing difficult.
Despite the fact that it can be simple to believe a dog with macroglossia has Down syndrome, the issue typically develops for other causes. An allergic reaction or exposure to illnesses like hypothyroidism are two examples.
Can Pets Have Down Syndrome?
In today’s day and age, many people all over the world have pets. There are many different types of pets that someone can own. Pets are great to have as they can be a form of friendship, a source of joy can teach responsibilities, and can even help with certain tasks.
In modern times many individuals who live in various places around the globe suffer from Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a medical condition concerning a genetic disorder. People with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21.
This means that a person with Down syndrome has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. Down syndrome effects include growth issues and mental difficulties.
Can Pets Have Down Syndrome?
So now the question being asked is can pets have Down syndrome? Pets have a different arrangement of chromosomes. This means that it’s impossible for pets to have an extra copy of chromosome 21 which causes Down syndrome. Some pets don’t have 21 chromosomes in the first place.
As well, some pets that do have more than 21 chromosomes won’t survive for a sufficient amount of time for a veterinarian to diagnose that they have Down syndrome. In conclusion, the answer to the question can a pet have Down syndrome? Is no.
The “animals with Down syndrome” plastered all over the internet actually have numerous disorders that may just result in certain traits that are comparable to those created by Down syndrome in people. Inbreeding was the source of Kenny the tiger’s wide eyes and short nose.
Otto the kitten’s strange facial traits were never explained, but they could have been brought on by a genetic mutation or a hormone shortage.
So, do animals have the condition too? Because Down syndrome is unique to humans, the answer is no. Nevertheless, as we discovered in this article, there are some situations in the animal kingdom when various species may have a condition that is comparable to Down syndrome in humans.