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Puppy Foxes

Most people are familiar with the process of dog breeding. Basically dogs with certain traits are bred together through successive generations until this:1280px-Wolves_in_Norway

becomes this:4204760689_5bcf7aa3f0_o.jpg

The actual science behind this process is astounding and I’m not really qualified to discuss it. But I can pose this question to you: if we could do this with wolves what’s stopping us from domesticating other wild animals in a similar way?

55 years ago Soviet scientist Dmitri Belyaev set up an extensive breeding program on Russian foxes to test contemporary theories on classical genetics. The results were quite astounding. To put it simply, the foxes of each generation that were most friendly toward humans were breed together. Here’s a bit more complex explanation from Belyaev’s research supervisor Lyudmila Trut:

“The least domesticated foxes, those that flee from experimenters or bite when stroked or handled, are assigned to Class III. Foxes in Class II let themselves be petted and handled but show no emotionally friendly response to experimenters. Foxes in Class I are friendly toward experimenters, wagging their tails and whining. In the sixth generation bred for tameness we had to add an even higher-scoring category. Members of Class IE, the “domesticated elite”, are eager to establish human contact, whimpering to attract attention and sniffing and licking experimenters like dogs. They start displaying this kind of behavior before they are one month old. By the tenth generation, 18 percent of fox pups were elite; by the 20th, the figure had reached 35 percent. Today elite foxes make up 70 to 80 percent of our experimentally selected population”.

Not only did these foxes begin acting like puppies, they actually started looking like them as well. Their coats come in a wide range of colors, some of which aren’t found in nature, and their general builds and shapes now much more closely resemble a lovable pup. You can even own one but with importation costs it could run you somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000.

Here video showing a few that have been adopted.

I want one!

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