Kenny’s brother, Willie, who has crossed eyes. Credit: Turpentine Creek wild Animals www.turpentinecreek.org
With his broad face, short muzzle and large underbite, Kenny the rare white tiger makes a strange spectacle.
Kenny’s appearance, that many people cruelly and wrongfully claimed was caused by Down’s Syndrome, is the result of cruel inbreeding by money-hungry animal traders who could make as much as £ 30,000 per pet white tiger cub.
Kenny’s sad story – which started when he was born at a tiger farm in Bentonville, Arkansas in 1998 has come to light as a result of an increase in the species to be slaughtered for the fur and the meat is cooked in stock cubes in Europe.
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Alarming is that there are current ads online breeders flogging inbreeding tiger cubs up to £2000, which state that they sell: “Tamed babies of 1 to 13 weeks” and offer “a well-trained exotic pets for low prices”.
The kind of’ white coat – which occurs in 1 in 10,000 in the wild is the result of breeding two Bengal tigers with a recessive pigment-gen.
In captivity, inbreeding results in a high neonatal mortality rates, and there is only one in 30 chance that a young healthy.
The other 29 newborns usually are distorted, cross-eyed or abnormal limbs and breathing and chewing problems are common.
Most die shortly after birth or are killed if they are considered to be the wrong color.
Women are treated as baby-making machines and their cubs are snatched immediately after birth.
This tricks the females to go into heat earlier than they are ready to, so that they can mate again and produce more cubs.
Because white tigers are so rare, brother and sisters are often covered by along – such as Kenny’s parents.
Apart from his brother Willie – who was severely cross-eyed – all of Kenny’s brothers and sisters were stillborn or died at birth.
After the tiger was rescued by a sanctuary in 2000, its owner, admitted that he had not killed, distorted cub at birth, because his son thought Kenny was too nice.”
Kenny the distinctive facial features meant that he had no chance to be sold to people who have a rare tiger as a pet.
Fokker claimed he ran into a wall’
Kenny was saved when his breeder contacted with The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and you ask them to the two brothers of him.
Employees describe how the “gruff man”, claimed £7,800 for the brothers, who claim that their deformities would boost the ticket sales.
When the centre refused, the breeder eventually agreed to give them up.
Staff were shocked at Kenny’s deformities, especially his crushed face, that his owner tried to pass off as self-inflicted.
When seeing Kenny for the first time, Turpentine keeper Emily McCormack said that the “gentleman we rescued him said that he is constantly with his face to the wall, but it was clear that that is not the situation.”
The employees – that the name of the tiger after singer Kenny Rogers – found the cats living in a filthy cage, filled with chicken remains and feces, which have not been cleaned in a few weeks”.
She took in Kenny, Willie, mama Loretta, and daddy Conway – the saving of a tragic death.
The world of the ‘ugliest’ tiger
Visitors who went to see Kenny at the refuge described him as a “happy, playful soul” in spite of his deformities.
Intern Dominique Curran said that one of Kenny’s favorite things to do was to play chase along the fence: “As I started to walk away I could hear Kenny jump down and run after me, like” Wait! We are not ready to play.'”
But once his picture was released by his rescuers, the world reacted with shock and sadness at the image of Kenny’s disfigured face.
He was labeled ‘world’s ugliest tiger’ with people who say that he looked like a dog instead of a big cat.
Commentary on the images of Kenny on the refuge of the Facebook page, a person, called tiger inbreeding as “one of the most ignorant, offensive operations during the playing of God that I have ever seen”.
And while many claimed he was the first tiger with Down’s Syndrome, scientists say that, if the disorder is caused by an extra copy of a specific chromosome, that only animals that are closely related to humans, such as chimpanzees, may have.
The sanctuary said that inbreeding causes of its peculiar characteristics.
Although tigers in the wild typically live to be 25, Kenny died of an aggressive form of skin cancer eight years after his rescue, at the young age of 10.
A shot in the eyes
Tiger farms are hugely popular in Asia and are quickly turning into a global industry.
Often disguising themselves as animal sanctuaries, they look to meet the increasing demand for tiger fur, body parts and domesticated tigers to be kept as pets.
Skins are converted into luxury carpets, tiger bones are used to create” self-healing ” health tonics and the wine and the meat is popular with the high-flying entrepreneurs, who believe that the consumption of the cats will improve their performance at work.
Shockingly, tigers are often shot in the eyes, so that their fur is not damaged.
The price of cruelty
The growth of the illegal farms has driven down the go for a price of € 30,000 for a white tiger cub to just under £ 4,000.
Elisa Allen, Director of PETA UK told Sun Online: “White tigers are not a species but simply an aberrant color variation of Bengal tigers, and breeding only to the signs of the paying crowds.
“All white tigers in captivity are inbred, which has led to serious birth defects, such as cataracts, clubfoot, and in the vicinity of crippling hip dysplasia.
“Tigers are on the verge of extinction, is still one of the biggest threats is the false promise of captive breeding programs.
“None of the tigers are born in captivity and will never be released, so that these programs do nothing to help wild tiger populations.
“As a big-cat species are to survive, our focus must shift from breeding and displaying them in captivity to habitat preservation in the wild.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun.