In Pictures: Siberian scientists breeding foxes for pets

Absorbing the solar of their backyard, Sergei Abramov and his spouse Tatiana are enjoying with their furry pet, Plombir, who wags his tail and vies for treats by obeying his house owners’ instructions.

However Plombir will not be “man’s best friend”.

He’s a fox, bred by Russian scientists as a part of a decades-long experiment in Siberia to review how wild animals are domesticated.

Plombir is completely satisfied to be led round by his house owners on a leash, however, as he pulls in direction of chickens protected of their cage, it’s clear he hasn’t misplaced all his wild instincts.

“Yes, he already tried to eat our chickens and run away,” says Abramov, 32, who lives within the suburbs of Russia’s third-largest metropolis, Novosibirsk.

His spouse, biologist Tatiana Abramova, 33, says she at all times wished to stay with a fox and that Plombir is “friendly and kind” however not very obedient.

“He jumps on tables, or jumps inside the fridge. He steals things and hides them,” she mentioned.

In 1959, Soviet geneticists Dmitry Belyaev and Ludmila Trut launched the experiment on a farm within the Akademgorodok scientific analysis centre close to Novosibirsk.

Their aim was to grasp how the domestication syndrome labored by domesticating foxes and learning how they may have developed into the loyal and loving canines we all know now.

For many years, researchers on the farm have chosen probably the most pleasant animals for breeding.

“We are trying to understand which genes change and how they change,” mentioned Yuri Gerbek, considered one of roughly 15 scientists working on the centre that’s dwelling to just about 1,000 foxes.

Belyaev died in 1985 and the experiment was practically shuttered over a scarcity of funding through the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the financial disaster that adopted.

It survived and has received worldwide consideration for the reason that emergence of DNA sequencing methods that made it attainable to review the foxes’ genetic code.

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