By Kalee Brown | Collective Evolution
Although breeding animals is by no means anything new, there’s been a greater focus on breeding specific domestic animals for their appearance. The primary issue with this type of animal breeding is that, often times, these new “attractive features” come at the cost of the animal’s wellbeing, creating health problems.
Genetically modified dogs have gained a lot of attention lately, as more people are becoming aware of the additional health risks dogs face when breeders try to alter their characteristics.
For example, pugs often suffer debilitating health issues as a result of their breeders “smooshing” their faces, resulting in smaller skulls and flatter noses over time. These qualities often affect their senses, impairing or preventing them completely from smelling, seeing, breathing, and hearing.
Another animal that’s often bred for specific advantageous qualities is horses, particularly those involved in horse racing. The horses that don’t get sold or those that get injured or sick are typically slaughtered.
However, the following type of horse breeding is very different, as horses are usually bred for racing-specific traits like higher jumping abilities, whereas these breeders focus on simply “improving” their appearance.
A recent photo that went viral is helping to shed light on the potential dangers of genetically modifying animals. The photo showcases what internet goers are referring to as a “cartoon-like horse,” as its physical appearance is almost unbelievable.
Extreme Horse Breeding Creates ‘Cartoon Horse’
The designer horse, El Rey Magnum, was bred by Orrion Farms, a specialist Arabian breeding farm in Washington State. Though his breeders consider him “close to perfection,” internet users and vets alike are raising concerns surrounding his wellbeing.
A group of vets even published an editorial in the journal Veterinary Record, in which vets have voiced their concerns over his appearance and taken a stance against this type of animal breeding. The editorial includes a number of statements from concerned experts and vets.
UK equine expert Tim Greet stated: “Actually this deformity is even more significant for a horse than for a dog. Dogs like man can mouth breathe, but horses can ONLY breathe through their nose. I suspect exercise would definitely be limited for this horse.”
Jonathan Pycock, an equine reproduction expert and president of the British Equine Veterinary Association, said:
I would imagine this horse could have respiratory problems – you would have to test it for sure – but you can’t say with any certainty that respiratory problems won’t develop. It would seem to have the potential to impact negatively on its health in terms of air intake.
The problem comes when you breed for particular looks and when those looks are detrimental to the horse’s health. In my book, that is fundamentally wrong. This is a worrying development.
Roly Owers, equine vet and chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said:
In a word this looks horrific. The foal in the video shows a markedly more dished nose even than its mother and has obviously been bred to achieve this. This appears to be breeding in a weakness that could severely affect future generations – and if there is not a restriction to the airway in this particular animal already then there will be in future generations. On first sight it is the airway restriction that is more concerning than the pronounced forehead – but this rather depends on how this develops as the foal grows.
Obviously Arabs have dished noses but this has been bred into the extreme. Quite disgusting!
There are many more statements from concerned vets and experts within the editorial, which you can read here.
Internet users have been comparing the photo and video to cartoon images of horses, such as the following Disney image:
Since receiving so much backlash over El Rey’s appearance, Orrion Farms has since taken down his page on their website. The breeders have spoken out stating that the colt has no medical or respiratory issues, though internet users, experts, and vets alike are still expressing their concerns for this specific horse as well as future generations.
The Telegraph uploaded the following video of El Rey, explaining the breeding details and health concerns:
Veterinary record editor Adele Waters summed it up well when she asked, “Where will it end? Is it really so bad for a horse to look like a horse and not a cartoon character?”
Do we really need to risk the health of animals in order to make them “more aesthetically pleasing?” As previously stated, even if this animal doesn’t experience any extreme health problems, future generations could still be at risk. An animal’s beauty lies in the way that it was magically created in the first place, not in how we can alter them to suit our own warped perceptions of beauty.
If you’re looking to buy a new pet, I strongly recommend looking into the genetic modification of that specific animal and encourage you to purchase either an adopted animal or an animal that was not bred in order to meet society’s increasingly dangerous demands. We need to stop trying to change our environment and instead recognize the beauty that already lies within it.