Hybrid animals are born (or created) when two different but closely related animals are bred together.
This process is known as hybridization and can occur naturally in the wild or through artificial means.
Lab hybrid animals are also common, and the process of making them is referred to as “somatic hybridization,” it allows scientists to manipulate the genes of animals to create new species.
Some types of hybrid animals can also be created in captivity in zoos and breeding facilities.
Typically, hybrid animals possess the characteristic of both parents, although some might possess more dominant traits of one parent than the other.
As hybrid animals include the attributes of both parents, they can have some characteristics that make them superior to other pure-breed animals, such as intelligence, physical strength, athleticism, and growth rate.
The kanga, a crossbreed between a female donkey and a male wild donkey, is the first known hybrid animal, although it is now extinct.
As science continues to evolve, so does the process of hybridization, and today, there are several existing hybrid animals.
Hybrid animals are usually named by combining the names of both parents, usually with the male parent’s name coming first.
In this article, we will explore some common types of hybrid animals with examples.
Types of Hybrid Animals
Hybrid animals are of three types, depending on how they are born or created. These are explained below:
1. Interspecific Hybrid animals
Interspecific hybrid animals are created by crossbreeding a male and a female animal from the same genus but different species.
In interspecific hybridization, there is the advantage of producing offspring that combine the gene of both parents, which results in them having desirable characteristics of the parents.
2. Intraspecific Hybrid Animals
An intraspecific hybrid animal is born through the mating of a male and female animal of the same species.
It can also be between a male and female animal of two different species but within the same species.
3. Genetic Hybrid Animals
These hybrid animals are created through genetic manipulation when scientists introduce the genes from one species into the gnomes of another.
Other than the natural process of hybridization, genetic hybridization is the most common method of producing hybrid animals.
Examples of Hybrid Animals
Let’s explore some known examples of hybrid animals that exist. These animals could be interspecific, intraspecific, or genetic hybrid animals.
1. Liger and Tigon (Lion and Tiger)
The crossbreed between a male lion and a female tiger is known as a liger, while that of a male tiger and a female lion is a tigon.
Ligers are much bigger than tigons and even bigger than either of their parents, weighing as much as a whopping 1,600 pounds; on the other hand, tigons weigh about 400 pounds, usually not bigger than either parent.
Ligers typically look and behave more like their lion fathers, although they can possess some traits of their tiger mothers, such as having stripped backs and the ability to swim.
In contrast, tigons look more like their tiger fathers, with a few traits from their lion mothers, such as the ability to roar and socialize.
It is almost impossible to find a crossbreed between a lion and a tiger in the wild, given that lions and tigers do not live in the same region. While lions are native to Africa, tigers are native to Asia.
The most accessible place to come across a crossbreed of both animals is in a zoo or breeding facility.
2. Leopon and Lipard (Lion and Leopard)
A leopon is one of the many types of hybrid animals in the Panthera genus that result from the breeding between a male leopard and a female lion (lioness).
The head of a leopon is quite similar to that of a lion, while the rest of its body is like a leopard’s.
On the other hand, a lipard is a breed between a male lion and a female leopard (leopardess).
The difference in the size between a male lion and a leopardess makes mating between them difficult. Thus, lipards are very rare.
3. Jaglion and Liguar (Lion and Jagaur)
The offspring of a male jaguar and a female lion (lioness) is known as a ganglion or jargon, while that of a male lion and a female jaguar is a liar.
Jaglions possess the background color of lions, with the build of a jaguar. Unlike a lion, jaglions don’t grow manes.
They also have spots on their fur like their jaguar fathers. A hybrid of a lion and a jaguar is extremely rare.
The first recorded case of a hybrid was at the Bear Creek Sanctuary when two big cats, Lola, the Lion, and Diablo, the jaguar, were raised together at the creek, which happened to serve as a haven for rehabilitating wild animals.
According to the records, Lola and Diablo developed a strong bond while growing up, resulting in them mating and Lola getting pregnant and delivering two healthy jaglions named Jazhara and Tsunami in 2006.
There are only two known species of jaglions worldwide, and liguars do not exist yet.
4. Geep (Sheep and Goat)
Other interesting types of hybrid animals are geeps. A geep (or “shoat”) is an offspring between a sheep and a goat.
Although sheep and goats belong to the same family, Bovidae, and are usually reared together domestically, their genetic makeup differs, with both animals having different chromosomes.
A hybrid of both animals is very rare, with most of them being stillborn.
Some debates have been about whether geeps are pure hybrids or sheep with genetic abnormalities.
Geeps are regarded among the cutest animals you can find anywhere.
5. Cama (Camel and Llamas)
A cama is a crossbreed between male dromedary camels and female llamas.
Camas have some characteristics of camels, such as their feeding habit, which is an herbivore, and their ability to drink a large amount of water at a time and survive without water.
At the same time, their appearance resembles that of a llama, as they are smaller in height and have no humps.
The first breed of cama was born in 1998 at the Camel Reproduction Centre in Dubai, United Arabs Emirates, and was conceived through artificial insemination.
The breeding program aimed to produce an animal with a higher wool production level than the llama and the size and strength of a camel.
As of 2008, there were only five known cama breeds worldwide, which makes them one of the rarest types of hybrid animals.
6. Beefalo (Buffalo and Cow)
When you mate a buffalo (bison) and a cow, you get a beefalo or cattalo, as it is also known. Beefalos closely resemble cattle in appearance.
In the United States, beefalos are bred for leaner meat, lower in calories, cholesterol, and fats, and higher in protein than regular beef. Beefalos can grow to be about 55 inches tall and weigh between 900 and 2,000 pounds.
Beefalos are found in North America, especially in the United States, where they are bred by farmers registered under the American Beefalo Association.
7. Wolphin (Whale and Dolphin)
A wolphin is a crossbreed between a male false killer whale and a female bottlenose dolphin. It is one of the rarest types of hybrid animals in the world.
The world’s first surviving wolphin was born in the Sea Life Park, outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, through the mating of a male false killer whale and a female bottlenose dolphin, much to the amazement of the park management.
Although it has been observed that false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins often swim together, any mating of such between them is a rarity, so the birth of this wolphin named Keikaimalu raised eyebrows and curiosity.
The wolphin combined the features of both parents well, with her head resembling that of a false killer whale, while the tip of her nose compared to that of a dolphin, although its coloring is darker than that of a dolphin.
The possibility of wolphins reproducing, unlike other hybrid animals, was proven when in 2004, Keikaimalu gave birth to a female wolphin calf.
8. Savannah Cat (Serval and Domestic Cat)
Breeding domestic animals with their wild counterparts is not uncommon among hybrid animals.
An example is the savannah cat, a crossbreed between a serval, an African wild cat, and a domestic cat.
Savannah cats are among the types of hybrid animals that can be domesticated.
Savannah cats are usually large, with the first-generation breeds weighing between 4.5 to 11 kilograms, while the later-generation Savannah cats weigh between 3.5 to 8.2 kg.
The physical appearance of the savannah cats varies, mainly due to the presence of different genetic traits.
Savannah cats also exhibit characteristics of domestic cats, with their friendly nature and loyalty.
9. Coywolf (Coyote and Wolf)
Coyotes and wolves reside together in the wild and can produce offspring known as coywolves or Wolfe.
Coywolves often share similar characteristics with their parents’ physical appearance and size.
However, they are known to be more friendly, less aggressive, and cooperative and can reproduce.
According to Ronald Kays of North Carolina State University, coywolves are among a breed of hybrid animals with a population of millions.
10. Panthera Hybrids
The big cats belong to the genus Panthera, including the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard.
And although these animals share similar genes, interbreeding between them is uncommon in the wild because their habitat doesn’t overlap.
Nevertheless, scientists have successfully mated males and females of the Panthera genus and successfully produced offspring, some of which have been listed earlier in this article (tigon, liger, leopon, lipard, jaglion, and liguar).
Other types of hybrid animals of the genus Panthera hybrids include:
- Jagupard: A hybrid of a male jaguar and a leopardess
- Leguar: A hybrid of a male leopard and a female jaguar
- Tiguar: An offspring of a male tiger and a female jaguar
- Tigard: The offspring of a male tiger and a leopardess
11. Zebroids (Zebra and Equines)
Zebroids are a crossbreed between zebras and any animals in the genus Equss which consists of horses, assess, and zebras.
Zebroids are one of the oldest known hybrid animals, dating back to the 19th century.
They are mentioned in some works of Charles Darwin, who coined the theory of evolution.
Most breeds of zebroids are sterile, meaning they cannot reproduce, which is a common trait in many hybrid animals.
Several types of zebroids exist. They include:
- Zonkey: The offspring of a male zebra and a female donkey
- Zedonk: The offspring of a male donkey and a female zebra
- Zorse: The offspring of a male zebra and a female horse
- Hebra: The offspring between a male horse and a female zebra
- Zony: The offspring of a male horse and a female pony
- Zetland: The offspring of a male zebra and a female Shetland pony
- Zebrass: The offspring of a male zebra and any female ass (Jenny) species