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Man’s new best friend

Russia is known for some pretty absurd things, but lately the researchers of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics seem to take the cake. Outside of Novosibirsk (located in Southern Siberia), the researches have a line of sheds labeled with names such as “Maverick,” “Cola,” and so on. Passing through, you will be submerged in an atmosphere only to be described as an “explosion of fur and unbridled excitement.” An uproar of frenzied yelps are heard from the sheds. Open the door, and a mass of fur will bound up into your arms and smother you with canine kisses. Except it’s not a dog at all. It’s a fox.

That’s right.

You heard correctly.

If these crazy Serbs get their way, the fox will be man’s new best friend.

As of the 1950s, The Institute of Cytology and Genetics have strived to domesticate foxes for use of household pets. The rationalisation behind this experiment is that if wolves evolutionized into dogs, why could they not do the same with foxes?

Let’s rewind to ninth grade biology. Remember all that talk about phenotypes? That is the key to domestication. By examining personality based on genes, the researchers selectively breed foxes by encouraging one behavior: friendliness.  After nine generations of kits, the outcome is remarkable.

“They remind me a lot of golden retrievers,” Anna Kukekova, a researcher from Cornell, said in an issue of National Geographic.  “They aren’t aware that there are good people, bad people, people that they have met before, and those that they haven’t.”

The foxes yearn for human affection.

Something else noteworthy happened during the selectivity of foxes. As the personality changed, so did the fox’s appearance. This is called “domestication phenotype.” If you think about it, tamed animals across the chart all share these similarities: floppy ears, smaller bone structure, curly tales, even spotted fur or skin. That is exactly what happened to these foxes!

However, before you get lost in the idea of some fluffy fox wonder-farm, you must remember the foxes are simply research. The scientists must control the population of foxes, so the unwanted are sold off to fur farms, where they probably become your grandma’s new winter coat. The institute hopes to obtain permits to sell the foxes as pets as opposed to handbags.

Remember the name Maverick? Well Luda Mekertycheva, a translator for National Geographic, became so attached to Maverick during her visitation that she adopted him and another playmate. Later she gave an update reporting the foxes’ behavior.

“Maverick and Peter jump on my back when I kneel to give them food, sit when I pet them, and take vitamins from my hand,” Luda said. “I love them a lot.”

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About the Contributor
Wynne Tidwell
Wynne Tidwell, Print Co-Editor in Chief
Wynne is considered both a “trooper” and eccentric. With these two attributes and her Co-Editor Gia, she hopes to create the best possible publication. Wynne stays very busy outside of newspaper. She is a member of NHS, Quill and Scroll, Rosebuds, Restoration Texarkana, and somehow a StuCo representative. She also plays tennis for her school and is a four year varsity athlete. Wynne’s passion include travel, food, good books, and her two golden retrievers, Bindi and Jolly (yes, she likes them more than most people). Wynne is also fluent in gibberish.

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Man’s new best friend