9 Fascinating Real Hybrid Animals

hybrid animals
Zonkey (Jane Fraser/Flickr)

9 Fascinating Real Hybrid Animals

Mother Nature generally expresses her displeasure over anyone messing with her original creations through hybridizing. First, most hybrid animals are not even possible – they live only in the imagination of creatives that have mastered Photoshop. Second, many hybrids that are possible are sterile.

Even at the bottom end of the hybrid totem pole, something as simple a hybrid bluegrass cannot produce offspring. Propagation is only possible by the endless use of sprigs to create more sod.

Similarly, in the animal kingdom, hybrids are often sterile. For example, when you breed a tiger and a lion will only produce sterile males. Females, however, are fertile. Hybrids are much more possible, and therefore common, in the plant kingdom.

List of Hybrid Animals

Overall, animal hybrids are pretty rare but here are some dynamic examples of real animal hybrids:

Weird Hybrid Animals

Iron Age Pig scratching his face

9. Iron Age Pig

This hybrid represents someone’s odd preoccupation with the prehistoric Iron Age. Art works found in caves depicted a distinctive type of Boar. So, in the 1980s, a Tamworth domestic sow was crossed with a male wild Boar to approximate the look of the hog from the age of iron long, long ago. The pork thus produced has caught on in the European specialty meat market. Not surprisingly, however, the aggressiveness of the Wild Boar is quite apparent in this hybrid that pays homage to prehistoric art.

Did You Know?
A wild boar can grow to over 600 pounds! That’s more than a motorcycle!

Beefalo grazing in field

8. Beefalo

Domestic cattle have been crossbred with the American Bison for decades. The anti-cholesterol movement in the 80s drove demand for the lean, low-cholesterol Beefalo meat. The meat is marketed to this day, although straight buffalo meat and lean cuts of beef seem to have cut into the market for Beefalo.

Did You Know?
The Zubron is a related crossbreed of the beefalo. A female domestic cattle and a male European Bison are brought together, and the result has been dubbed the Zubron.


Cute Hybrid Animals

7. Liger

The offspring of the initial cross between a male Lion and a female Tiger was borne out of greed, plain and simple. Around the end of the 19th century, these animal hybrids were created to attract crowds at the circus. They are the world’s largest cats, and those circus audiences marveled as the circus train pulled into town. Meanwhile, the Tigon is a hybrid species produced by a male Tiger and a female Lion.

Of course, the cross-breeders were not content to stop interbreeding there. Male Tigers were then bred with female Ligers and Tigons. A male Lion was bred with a female Tigon and a female Liger. The resulting “next gen” hybrids were Ti-Ligers, Ti-Tigons, Li-Tigons, and Li-Ligers. Got that? One must admit that the results interbreeding are eye-catching. For example, the Ti-Ligers are 3/4 Tiger. The striping is very distinctive.

Did You Know?
One of the traits inherited from a tiger is the fact that ligers are very good swimmers and love to swim even though lions don’t like water.


6. Leopon

The hybridizing of big cats does not end there. Male Leopards have been introduced to female Lions, with startling results. The head of the Lion dominates, and the body of the Leopard dominates. These “Leopons,” as they’ve been called, are excellent climbers that love the water. The most successful breeding has occurred in Japan at the Koshien Hanshin Park, which is in Nishinomiya City.

Did You Know?
One of the interesting facts about leopons is that, unlike lions, they’re good climbers. They also enjoy the water, which often distresses their lioness mothers.


Just a side note, there is a naturally occurring hybridization in the wild that may not involve the bigger cats, but the hybrid offspring is just as adorable. The Savannah cat is the result of breeding a domestic cat and a serval which is an African wildcat. This species is best known for their loyalty that can be equated to that of a dog’s.

Zonkey grazing in zoo enclosure

5. Zonkey

Zebras have actually been cross-bred with a variety of fellow Equids. They’ve also been combined in some fertile imaginations with lions to create some interesting, but phony results.

The Zonkey, of course, results from the interaction between a Zebra and a Donkey. It will come as no shock to most that these can be better for riding than pure Zebras, but they can be quite temperamental!

Did You Know?
Zorses and Zonies are also a part of this eclectic group of hybrids. The most common hybrid Equid is the good ‘ol Mule, the result of a male Donkey romancing a female Horse

Wolf Dog Running in grass

4. Wolf Dog

Get your hands on one of these, and plan to hire an obedience trainer. The wolf is actually a fairly shy animal that relies on hunting skills, facial expressions, and body language to survive. However, cross one with a dog, and the resulting “wolf dog” can often be much more aggressive. Worse yet, it often exhibits “schizoid” behavior — more dog-like one moment and more wolf-like the next.

Did You Know?
The lupo Italiano, or Italian wolf, isn’t for sale at any price — but is given away free by the Italian government to people or organizations committed to using this hybrid’s special skills in the public interest.

Grolar in forest environment

3. Grolar

Although the genetic similarity of Grizzlies and Polar Bears is unmistakable, they have a demonstrated distaste for each other in the wild. However, hybrids have occurred out in the wild. These have been called “Grolars” or “Pizzlys.” However, the latter name seems to unduly diminish the stature of these majestic but massive creatures.

Apparently, the mutual dislike that these bears normally have for each other was countered by perhaps an unusual degree of loneliness on the part of two bears who produced the Polar Bear/Grizzly combo. Then, on April 16, 2006, a hunter from the States, Jim Martell, shot it dead in Canada. Other “Grolars” do exist in zoos to this day.

Did You Know?
Grolar bear is also known as “nanulak”. Name is mixture of Inuit words for polar bear – “nanuk” and grizzly bear – “aklak”.

Wolphin in pool

2. Wolphin

No, the Wolphin is not some fantasy cross between a wolf and a dolphin, although it is fun to ponder! In reality, this rare and unusual hybrid results from the hybridization of a female Bottlenose Dolphin and a male False Killer Whale. Two of these hybrid species can be seen in captivity at Hawaii’s Sea Life Park. Wolphins are so unusual even for hybrid animals because they display virtually similar characteristics of the two parents.

Did You Know?
The bottlenose dolphin has 88 teeth, the false killer whale has 44 teeth, while wholphin has 66 teeth – an average number of teeth of its parents.

Cama eating hay in barn

1. Cama

A cross between a camel and a llama has been dubbed a “Cama.” The considerable difference in size between camels and llama means that this crossbreeding is accomplished through artificial insemination. The smallish llamas appreciate this courtesy. Interestingly, the Cama ends up with the long tails and short ears of the camel while the llama contributes the cloven hooves. These hybrid animals are rather cute, though humpless.

Did You Know?

The goal of mixing of camel and llama was to create a large and robust animal species with a cooperative temper that can be used as a pack animal in harsh desert climate.


What Is a Hybrid Animal?

When you breed two animals of different species, the offspring is known as a hybrid animal. This hybrid offspring usually reflects the characteristics of both parent species, although these traits may or may not be equally distributed.

Why Are Hybrid Animals Sterile?

First off, not all hybrids are sterile. However, it is more common among these animals to be infertile due to the presence of extra chromosomes in their DNA. An extra chromosome means that it cannot create a homologous pair. This will result in the disruption of the meiosis stage which ultimately hinders the formation of sex cells.

Final Thoughts Hybrid Animals

Get one of each of these unique animal hybrids, and the possibilities are endless. Ride your Zonkey into the wild and use your Wolf Dog to hunt down a Grolar. Hop on a humpless Cama and ride down to the local Beefalo farm. Check out a Liger and a Leopon the next time the zoo comes to town.

Well, many of these bizarre hybrids are pretty rare, so such experiences will remain solely in the realm of fantasy for the foreseeable future.

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