The History of the Royal Persian Angora Chinchilla
Royal Persian Angora chinchillas have added a new dimension to chinchilla breeding. Their notably long hair, along with a prepotency for universally desirable aesthetics, has drawn much attention from breeders and spectators around the world. The gene that produces the long-haired Royal Persian Angora mutation is a simple true recessive. Most carriers have a phenotype similar to non-Angoras, but a few carriers have slightly longer hair than non-carriers. In the homozygous form, the fur is truly that of Angora type.
This mutation was first observed and described by Dr. Caraway in the early 1960's, as reported by Dr. J. Lauridsen. Dr. Caraway stated that the initial long haired mutation matured very quickly (an observation that might be debated today). Fur producers at this time were interested in developing the mutation as an answer to fast production. The problem with the mutation in this market was that the fur was twice as long as that of a normal chinchilla, thus lacking the fur strength needed for a plush look. Additionally, the good clarity of color and dark color phase required by the fur industry proved difficult to produce in the new long-haired chinchillas.
Dr. Lauridsen saw another example of the long haired mutation in Canada a few years later. These animals were being bred by a man of Polish decent who, like the original breeder, eventually gave up on the mutation as a viable fur producer.
In 1966, a breeder by the name of Roy Wilson began working with the long haired chinchilla when his ‘P4’ was born showing evidence of the long haired mutation gene. Whether or not this was the same mutation as that produced earlier has not been proven from a genetic basis. However, there is significant phenotypic evidence to suggest that the same genetic mutation was involved in both cases. The most prominent observable difference between Roy Wilson's animals, and those of the original breeder Dr. Caraway and the Polish Canadian, was that Mr. Wilson's animals did not exhibit the off- color found in the previous herds.
After several more years had passed, Mr. Wilson's friend Doyle Briscoe became half owner in Wilson's long haired herd. The Briscoes successfully showed long haired carriers, and had at least one Black Velvet long haired carrier that won Champion Black at a show in Texas. The fur of this particular carrier had a fairly normal, but slightly longer, plushy look.
The long haired mutation was never a notable success for pelt production, but the gene was not lost. In April of 1997, a breeder in Texas purchased the long haired chinchillas from the Briscoes, and spent several years propagating the mutation.
Starting in 2005, and continuing for the next 16 years, Chinchillas.com marketed, sold, and exported the Texas-bred long haired chinchillas, then renamed the 'Royal Persian Angoras.' The first of these exports left US shores, bound for Russia, the Ukraine, France, and Belgium. 2007 saw the arrival of the Royal Persian Angoras (abbreviated 'RPA,' or 'rpa' for carriers), in South Africa, Austria, Germany, and Hong Kong. In 2008, they made their way to Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Denmark. By 2010, the Chinchillas.com Royal Persian Angora exports arrived in Norway, Portugal, and China. In 2011, Finland and Japan also welcomed the arrival of this rare mutation. And finally, in 2015, the Royal Persian Angoras were sold closer to home - in the United States, and also in Canada.
By 2021, the Royal Persian Angoras had circumnavigated the globe. Breeders worldwide have added new hybrids, new qualities, and new dimensions to the Royal Persian Angora chinchillas.
Since the origin of the long haired mutation over 60 years ago, the Royal Persian Angora has found its most successful place in the world among a global collective of hobbyist mutation chinchilla breeders.