Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

You guys may have seen a picture of this tiger before, but if you haven't, please take a look at it and share your thoughts.
In 2000, Kenny the tiger was rescued by the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Reserve in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kenny was a tiger born from inbreeding; his mother and father were also brother and sister tigers. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was asked to take in Kenny and his brother, Willie, from a breeder in Bentonville, AR, because he could not sell them due to their deformities, so both male tigers were rescued by the wildlife refuge. Kenny's face showed signs of deformity, especially his mouth that couldn't properly close. His brother Willie, an orange Bengal Tiger, also showed signs of deformity because of inbreeding, specifically being severely cross-eyed. Kenny was born on April 4, 1998 and passed away on June 28, 2008 due to cancer. Scientists are not yet certain how he got downs syndrome, but they are seeing a link between his syndrome as a result of inbreeding. Kenny lived to be 10 years old, Willie lived to be 12 years old. The parents, who appeared to have no genetic deficiencies, were able to live out lengthier lives than their sons. The father of the cubs died at the age of 19 years and the mother just recently passed away at the age of 23.

I hope you guys found this article as intriguing as I did. It's a reminder that deformities such a Kenny's and Willie's do not only happen in humans but can be seen in other animals too.
Thank you,
Benito Barrera

This link below will show you a video of Kenny and his brother Willie. I hope you like it.

  • No labels


  1. Its very interesting that these deformities and mental handicaps do really exist in animals. Although it is very logical and does occur I never really thought about the concept before we discussed it this year. This article shows that these conditions can affect tigers, which seems so surreal but at the same time shows the reality of science. It makes you really think how similar we are to animals, as well as how we have evolved from a common ancestor and now share this ability to be genetically deformed. 

  2. These tigers illustrate excellently just why it's so important that artificial selection is handled responsibly, since the same thing happens perhaps not so extremely but much more commonly in domestic animals, especially dogs and increasingly cats as they're chosen for appearance rather than physical abilities. Selecting animals from a small sample to inbreed certainly allows breeders to quickly and reliably reproduce the arbitrarily-valued traits that make the next generation up to "breed standard", but often this is done disregarding the health of the animal overall. Intentional inbreeding is just asking for recessive deleterious mutations to crop up all over - most dog breeds have a long list of genetic diseases they're prone to, for example, usually because their breed history favored other traits than long term health. More responsible breeders are careful to outcross their animals to ensure a healthy degree of variation in the gene pool.

  3. This is certainly one of the more interesting things I've read of late. It's also really sad that this sort of breeding (artificial selection) exists and that it's not just humans that can be damaged by the irresponsibilities of other humans. I understand the breeders were in it for the money because white bengals can be a recessive result of the breeding and they're obviously rare, but the outcome that can result is rather sad and unfortunate for those bengals. I'd be interested to see a more "microscopic" breakdown of what happened in the DNA. Great find!

  4. This has seriously been the most interesting article I have commented on thus far. I always knew human offsprings produced by incest would have deformities and it is very surprising to see similar deformities in animals. I could think of when seeing Kenny's picture was, "Aw poor tiger!!!!". His short life span and awful death illustrates the strong affects of interbreeding close family members. Thanks for sharing this article, I'm going to share it with a couple of my friends!

  5. Yeah I watched to video and I seen that Kenny also resembles the flatness face like our species has when they have down-syndrome.  It’s kind of sad to know that Kenny’s parents were siblings and forced to mate. I am no for inbreeding at all due to the complications of the off spring. But like most artificial selection that are desired traits and none of the breeding of those animals are not inbreed. So why even inbreed in the first place to just have generations of offspring die off younger and younger every year such to have genetic deformities and to live less ever year. 

  6. When you think of mental illnesses you automatically assume its a human. I was shocked to see that animals could get illnesses like that as well. I would have never thought of that. Its a terrible thing for that to happen to animals because the ones breeding have no cognitive thought process of the implications it could have. I hope that scientists can learn from these animals that have similar illnesses to humans and hopefully further advance in genetic research. 

  7. I didn't know that animals could get incestual deformities and problems. That is crazy. It makes sense, it just never occurred to me. 

  8. I've actually read a lot about this! Downs syndrome occurs particularly in white bengal tigers due to all of the inbreeding. In fact, white tigers are a rare genetic mutation, and not an actual breed. I think I remember reading that a large percentage of white tigers are born with intellectual deformities due to inbreeding. It's really sad. I find it very unethical to be breeding white tigers when the majority of them are born with incurable deformities.

  9. That's such an interesting article! Even though Kenny has those deformities, he is still an absolute beautiful tiger!! This is crazy that animals can also have these sorts of deformities in their appearance due to chromosomes that get a little screwed up during the process! I know Kenny has visible deformities, but do you think that he has any mental issues as well due to the inbreeding, like humans do? I noticed while I was watching the video that he was more observant of the grass in one place whereas Willie just went and wandered around beyond Kenny. It's so sad that they passed and what they went through in their life, but it did cause for a very interesting article to be spread around the world about the similar deformities humans and animals can have.

  10. This was a very interesting article! I was surprised to find out that animals can suffer disabilities similar to those in humans. I don't understand inbreeding occurs if people are informed of the risks. I would be interesting to learn why one tiger cub was affected by this disability, while the other was able to live a short while longer.

  11. This article completely surprised me. Like everyone else has said, when you think of mental handicaps you don't think of animals. I find it even more depressing that they were born in an establishment that specializes for profit breeding. Its no wonder that this type of error occurred, breeding animals can be a risky thing. I just never have thought of an animal having downs syndrome! As these tigers represented, it is completely possible. 

  12. I've seen a picture of Kenny before on twitter but never one of his brother. Its interesting to see how down syndrome affects the longevity of tigers lives similarly to those of human lives. I'm curious however if the two tigers are actually brothers as one is white and the other a bengal, or if they are referring to them as brothers due to their common deformities.

    1. Kenny is a bengal tiger too - it's a subspecies, with "white tiger" just a phenotypic description (apparently consisting of only Bengals?). Like how black panthers are just melanistic jaguars/leopards and not their own species.

      Tangentially, this is a neat journal article about tiger subspecies genetics and the geographic division thereof. One finding was the low genetic variability of Amur (Siberian) tigers - since there's been no scientific documentation of white Siberian tigers (that weren't Bengal hybrids), it's possible that the white coloration allele just doesn't exist in the Siberian tiger gene pool, which I thought was pretty interesting.

      Since there's a lot of draw to Siberian tigers specifically for whatever reason (because they're huge and pretty?), I'd be interested to find out if the white coat variant has ever been found in other subspecies that are more out of the public eye than Siberians and Bengals that have more genetic variation.