A Wylie-based “big cat” is taking the world by storm, one gene at a time.
Kylo Ren, a white Bengal tiger housed at In-Sync Exotics in Wylie, was born in March 2018, less than two months after his parents Assad and Zahra were taken in by the local wildlife rescue center. Now their family history is the subject of a Stanford University study, the purpose of which is to “understand the relationship between ‘pure’ genetic tiger species and the ‘generic’ tigers that are rescued by sanctuaries like In-Sync,” said Angela Culver, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit exotic feline sanctuary.
Varying genes can contribute to a tiger’s appearance, causing differences in things like coat color and stripe density. The study is comparable to ancestry.com for humans, researchers say. Swabs are taken from the tigers’ fur, whiskers, feces and, in some cases, blood samples and mouth swabs.
“Certain characteristics are inherent to each of the ‘pure’ species of tigers,” Culver said. “Knowing an individual cat’s genetic makeup could help us understand certain behaviors better, predict possible health issues to be on the lookout for as they age and ultimately, it is our hope that this information will aid in wild tiger population as well.”
By April Towery • Contributing Writer