Mother Nature generally expresses her displeasure over anyone messing with her original creations through hybridizing. First, most hybrids 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, the cross between 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.

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

9. Iron Age Pig

Iron Age Pig

Iron Age Pig (Derbyshire Harrier/Flickr)

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.

8. Beefalo


Beefalo (Lolo2182/Flickr)

Domestic cows 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.

The Zubron is a related cross. A domestic cow and a male European Bison are brought together, and the result has been dubbed the Zubron.

7. Liger


Liger (Con Mèo/Flickr)

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 produced by a male Tiger and a female Lion.

Of course, the cross-breeders were not content to stop 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 are eye-catching. For example, the Ti-Ligers are 3/4 Tiger. The striping is very distinctive.

6. Leopon


Leopon (soccerbrat12/Flickr)

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.

5. Zonkey


Zonkey (Jane Fraser/Flickr)

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 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! 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

4. Wolf Dog

Wolf Dog

Wolf Dog (greensh/Flickr)

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.

3. Grolar


Grolar (Christinas_Fotos/Flickr)

Although the genetic similarity of Grizzlies and Polar Bears is unmistakeable, 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.

2. Wolphin


Wolphin (candiceottone/Flickr)

No, the Wolphin is not some fantasy cross between a wold and a dolphin, although it is fun to ponder! In reality, this rare and unusual hybrid results from crossing a Bottlenose Dolphin and a False Killer Whale. The two that can be seen in captivity are at Hawaii’s Sea Life Park. What makes Wolphins so unusual among hybrid animals is that they display virtually equal characteristics of the two parents. For example, a Bottlenose Dolphin has 88 teeth, and a False Killer Whale has 44. The Wolphin is exactly in the middle, at 66.

1. Cama


Cama (Craig Wright/Flickr)

A cross between a camel and a llama has been dubbed a “Cama.” The huge difference in size between camels and llama means that this cross breeding 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. The llama contributes the cloven hooves. These hybrid animals are rather cute, though humpless.

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.