Hybrid animals have fascinated us throughout the ages. Mankind has even purposely coerced interbreeding between species in the case of the mule to glean the best traits from a female horse and a male donkey for our own needs. 20 incredible hybrid animals that actually exist also take pride of place, surprising audiences in zoos and safari parks around the world.
A hybrid animal is an animal that was birthed from two different species. Usually, the offspring is not viable (able to have its own children). If the offspring are viable, it’s the female version and the male version is still sterile. Not all species are able to create hybrids. For example, you cannot mate a shark and a tiger to create a “shiger”.
Diverse species like sharks and tigers are too physically different from each other for the genes to come together and create offspring. To create a hybrid animal, the two species involved must be somewhat similar genetically (their genes/DNA must be closely matched) as you will see in the following examples.
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A zonkey is a cross between a male zebra and a female donkey. Breeding a female zebra and a male donkey will result in a Zedonk. While most hybrid animals do not normally exist in the wild, it is possible to see zonkeys in nature because zebras and donkeys are often found living together in some parts of Africa.
Zonkeys are herbivores and can grow to be as much as 700 pounds. They can reach speeds of us up 35mph! They appear to have the head of a donkey and the characteristic black and white stripes of a zebra on each of their legs.
Where can you see a zonkey?
Recently a zonkey was sighted at the Sheldrick Trust that helps to conserve rare animals in Tanzania.
A Beefalo is a cross between a Buffalo and a domestic cow. The reason these hybrid animals were created is because cows being raised as livestock were getting very sick living in poor conditions and living so close to each other. Most of the time the cows would die or be too sick to slaughter and sell for meat and the farmers would end up losing money.
Beefalo hybrids are resistant to a lot of diseases. This increases the quantity of meat that can be sold. They are also able to tolerate colder climates that the domestic cow cannot, allowing farmers in cooler climates to have a way of selling beef. They also have a much lower fat content than a standard domestic cow, which makes the meat more desirable to consumers.
With less cholesterol than chickens or even cod, beefalo meat is healthier than regular beef but it is still more rare than regular beef, making it more expensive. Unlike most hybrid animals, Beefalo are able to reproduce.
Where can you see beefalo?
Beefalo are common on Texas farms where the grass fed animals are reared for meat.
A huarizo is a cross between a male llama and a female alpaca. The Huarizo is born sterile, as most hybrid animals are. New research suggests that by modifying a few genes they can create Huarizo that are fertile. These are not common hybrid animals because they do not have the best traits of either a llama or alpaca.
They are fluffier than llamas, but the wool is not as soft. Their wool is usually combined with other materials such as polyester to make clothing. They do not have the strong athletic legs of an alpaca either. They are found living in the mountains of South America. If they are scared or feel like they are in danger they will scream and make a loud hooting noise similar to a warbler bird. They like to live with other similar animals like sheep and goats and are easily trained and good to keep as pets.
Where can I see a huarizo?
Huarizos or Llalpacas can be seen in the wild at Puno, Peru. They, too are common in alpaca and llama farms throughout North America and Europe.
A coydog is a cross between a male coyote and a female dog. Many dogs are used to create a coydog, such as a Huskie. These hybrids are fertile and can reproduce for four generations. They should be fed mostly raw meat. Most states do not allow you to own a coydog as a pet, however even if you are allowed, it is not usually a good idea.
These hybrids are aggressive and can only be trained by someone who has a strong dog handling experience and is very good at handling wild animals. They do not like to play and are not friendly. They act more like a coyote than a dog.
Where can I see a Coydog?
It would be a good idea to to avoid a coydog in the wild. They are more common in the Southeast United States
A liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. These hybrids are the largest known cats in the world. They can grow to over 10ft long and weigh 900 pounds! They are often obese because they are kept in small enclosures in zoos or other human run facilities and cannot get the exercise they need to stay healthy. They live between 15 and 25 years and prefer a diet of wild boar and deer. They enjoy swimming and are very social animals. They can run up to 50 mph. They share more traits with a lion than they do with a tiger. There are currently thought to be only about 100 living ligers in the world right now.
Where can I see a liger? By examining DNA it was scientifucaly proven ligers once lived in the wild when tiger and lion territories overlapped. Nowadays you can see them at Myrtly Beach Safari, in Socastee, South Carolina.
6. Pizzlie or Grolar Bear
Due to climate change, polar bears have been losing their habitat at a very quick rate. Because of this, many polar bears have begun migrating to remote areas of Canada. While there, they have run into native grizzly bears, resulting in the creation of Pizzly bears; a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly bear.
Reaching a weight of 1500lbs, they are still smaller than polar bears. As the number of Pizzlies increases, the extinction rate of polar bears also increases because there will be less purebred polar bears in the wild. Hunters from the village of Ulukhaktok, N.W.T knew there was a difference about the bear they were stalking.
A Wholphin is a cross between a female common bottle nose dolphin and a male false killer whale. These hybrids are extremely rare. They grow very quickly and can reach a length of 22ft and a weight of 600 lbs. The first Wholphin was created by accident in Sea Life Park located in Hawaii by keeping a female bottle nose in the same tank as a male false killer whale. This Wholphin called Kekaimalu the Wholphin and her daughter are the only known animals in the world. They still live in Sea Life Park.
A Leopon is a cross between a male leopard and a female lion. These hybrids are created in captivity and are not thought to exist in the wild. Unlike lions they love water and are great climbers. They have the head of a lion and the body of a leopard. Leopons, like most hybrids are sterile. They are not created for any specific purpose other than the fact that they can be. The earliest known record of the creation of a Leopon was in 1910.
A Mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. A male Mule is called a John and a female Mule is called a Molly. They are easier to train than horses and donkeys, are smarter, eat less and live longer too. George Washington favored the Mule as his favorite working animal. Normally Mules weigh between 800-1000 lbs., but “Mini Mules” can also be bred and weigh in at only 50 lbs. Mules were favored by soldiers for transporting munitions before mechanical transport as they are hardier than horses and can survive on more sparse vegetation while possessing calm temperaments.
Where can I see a mule?
You can see mules around the world at specialist breeding centers. You South Carolina Donkey & Mule Association and managed by St. Clair Equine.
The Ashera cat is a mix of an African wild cat and an Asian leopard, with a bit of domestic cat as well. These were created in a lab called Lifestyle Pets. It is popular because it can be 5ft long and up to 33lbs. They are extremely expensive. It costs around $25,000/18,000 GBP to own one! Although they look like a wild cat that belongs in the jungle, they are very much like common domestic cats. They are very calm and relaxed and like attention and to be pet. They also enjoy their alone time.
A Flowerhorn is a type of cichlid (fish) that does not exist in the wild. They are a cross of different American Cichlids. These are only found in human captivity and are man made, except for those that have been released into the wild. The released fish have become invasive species in these waters. Because they are not natural, they have no predators and their population increases. They eat all the food available for the native species causing them to die out.
Many people keep these fish as pets but they are very aggressive. It is said that they will bring good luck if you pet them. This is dangerous because it is similar to petting a piranha.
This incredible hybrid is a cross between a puma and a leopard. They are all born with dwarfism (when the bones do not grow to a complete length during gestation). They are only half the size of their parents. There are thought to be no living examples of pumapards and haven’t been for almost 100 years. Some people believe that these have never existed because cougars and leopards do not have enough in common genetically to create a hybrid. However, a stuffed version of a pumapard can be seen on display in the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum at Tring, England
13. Lonicera Fly
This insect is a cross between an apple maggot fly and a blueberry fly. Invasive honeysuckle has given an opportunity for this new hybrid insect species. Hybridization is not usually a cause for a new species to arise bc either the male or both genders are sterile and therefore they are unable to reproduce. If you cannot reproduce you cannot create a population of a new species.
We do see examples of new species of plants arising from hybridization in nature but not animals. This may be the first example of this occurring in animals but more research is necessary in order to prove this.
This bird is a cross between a capercaillie and a black grouse. A capercaillie by nature is a very shy and passive animal. A black grouse is very aggressive. Instead of combining these traits to create a hybrid with the temperament somewhere in between we see that some individuals are docile like the capercaillie and some are very aggressive like the black grouse. Those that are similar to the black grouse will often fight with an opponent usually ending the match by ripping the head off of the other bird.
15. Fujian Pond Turtle
The Fujian is a crossbreed of an Asian yellow pond turtle and a Golden coin turtle. They have been created by human interference in China and Vietnam and can be found in turtle farms in these countries. They are not believed to be found in the wild because the males are sterile. Individuals have been found in nature but not populations. This indicates that they are not reproducing on their own, but people will release them into nearby waterways if they no long wish to keep them.
This isosteric animal is a cross between a yak and the American bison. These creatures were made through experiments conducted in the 1920’s. Only a few of the hybridisation offspring survived. The experiments stopped in 1928.
A Cama is a cross between a male camel and a female llama. They were first created in Dubai in an effort to create a pack animal that was strong like a camel but not as stubborn and easier to train like a llama. The results were a success. Although they have a resemblance to camels, they do not have the characteristic hump of a camel. Camas are created through artificial insemination due to the large size difference between a camel and a llama. A Cama produces a lot more wool than a llama does which is also a benefit for herders.
18. Iron Age Pig
This hybrid is a cross between a domestic pig and a wild boar. They were first created in the early 1980’s and featured on a documentary for the BBC. The wildlife experts wanted the livestock to represent the animals of the iron age. The meat from this animal has a more gamey taste than a domesticated pig.
Some people prefer this wild taste of a boar like animal from 4000 years ago. You are not able to raise wild boar without a special license in many countries, but you can raise Iron Age Pigs. This allows for people to easily get their hands on the gamey meat. Having wild genes, these ginger and hairy hogs are more likely to escape.
A Dzo is a cross between a domestic cattle and a yak. These are found in Mongolia and Tibet. They were created to be larger and stronger than both yaks and cattle. The human engineered hybrid, produces more meat and dairy products than both of those respective species. They can survive at an altitude of 10,000 ft and are primarily used as pack animals to carry goods across the mountains. They can carry up to 300 pounds.
This hybrid is a cross between the wisent and domestic cattle. The wisent is the European bison. This hybrid is the Polish equivalent to the American Beefalo. Like the Beefalo, they were more durable and less susceptible to disease than domestic cattle. The animal was meant to become a cheaper version of cattle. They didn’t need as much land or food to eat to survive.
Breeding experiments stopped in the late 1980’s. A lot of the attempts to create offspring didn’t yield any. In 16 years only 71 offspring were born. Financial supporters for this experiment lost interest in it and pulled their funds. In 2007 efforts had been made to restart the project.