Whether through forced breeding or a stroke of luck in the wild, animal hybrids are a fascinating feat that can be anything from intriguing to terrifying. Animal hybrids may go against the very laws of nature, but you know what they say about laws - they are most certainly meant to be broken! In this installment, we are going to look at the strangest, most unique hybrids out there.
The Killer Bee
The story of the Africanized honey bee, or the killer bee, could easily be the background to a horror movie. Created in a lab by scientists aiming to breed honey bees that could better adapt to the tropics of South America, several specimen escaped and began breeding with Brazilian honey bees. Though they aren’t really murderous in that they seek out people to kill, the killer bee is insanely territorial and will attack any person that may come too close. They aren’t equipped with potent venom, either, though the sheer numbers they attack in can cause lethal doses of the venom. Their increasing numbers and tendency to swarm often continue to pose a threat to American and European agriculture.
The Grolar Bear
Speculation states that the grolar bear is soon to be product of the warming of the arctic, but they have been previously created in captivity. One of the first cases of a wild grolar bear was in 2006, when a hunter roaming the Canadian Arctic had a run in with a white bear with brown patches. After killing it, DNA testing confirmed the polar-grizzly breed. Grolar bears share many attributes with both polar and grizzly bears, though their sizing puts them right in between the two. Behaviorally, the hybrid is more akin to polar bears, hurling objects similar to how a polar bear will toss their prey.
Want to make friends with something that could eat your face without even batting an eye? Allow us to introduce you to the liger, a hybrid of a male lion and female tiger – no, this wasn’t just the imagination of Napolean Dynamite, it’s actually a real animal. If you are worried about running into one of these mammoth beasts in the wild, you may take solace in knowing that they only exist in captivity. The first appearance of the liger dates back to 1798, when French naturalist Etienne Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire created a color plate depicting the offspring of a lion and tiger. Male ligers can grow to 3.5 meters or 11.5 feet in length, making them slightly larger than male Siberian tigers. Though it is believed ligers suffer from infertility, deafness, and a range of other diseases, Kevin Antle assures that there is no evidence and that ligers may even have a stronger immune system then tigers and lions.
Production of this massive animal was first noted in the mid-19th century by Charles Goodnight. Following Goodnight’s successful crossbreeding of a domestic cattle and American buffalo, Charles Jones pursued creation of the hybrid with the intent of an animal suitable for beef production that could survive the harsh winters of Ontario. Production of the beefalo is mostly overseen by the American Beefalo Association, Inc, a body formed by two different organizations: The American Beefalo World Registry and American Beefalo International. The concept of the beefalo was simple – to combine characteristics of cattle and bison for the purposes of beef production. It did so and provided a meat similar to bison, but was also lower in fat and cholesterol.
One of the few hybrids on this list who’s creation did seem to serve a purpose is this majestic beast, bred from a male dromedary camel and female llama. On January 14th, 1998, the first cama was brought into the world with the intention of creating an animal that could produce a higher rate of wool than the llama. Looking at the numbers, it may not seem like the original purpose of the hybrid was met, as, generally, it offers a shorter fur length than the llama and can handle less than a 1/4 of the weight that a camel can. It does provide a rather domesticated nature and gentle temperament, like the camel, making it easier to work with than the llama. As of April 2008, there have only been five known camas produced in the world.
The name may be a little misleading, as this hybrid is a combination of a bottlenose dolphin and a false killer whale, two members of the oceanic dolphin family, but the wholphin is still a beautiful spectacle of marine life. Reports have shown that wholphins do exist in the wild, but the more popular hybrids have been bred by everybody’s favorite oceanic theme parks, Sea World and Sea Life Park. The first, which died after only 200 days, was born in Tokyo SeaWorld. A more successful attempt was made in 1985 in Sea Life Park in Hawaii with the birth of Kekaimalu.
There are some pairings of animals that just make you wonder how bored someone was one day to think to cross-breed them, like pairing a zebra and a donkey to make the aptly named zonkey. Beyond a name that sounds like it was pulled form a Dr. Seuss storybook, the zonkey is a silly looking animal. The zonkey is bred from a male zebra and female donkey, making it slightly different than the zedonk, which is bred from a male donkey and female zebra. This clever creation was originally bred as a work animal, but when one was accidentally created in the Colchester Zoo in 1970, it became a means of entertainment for tourists around the globe. Despite the fact that it exists mostly to serve man’s need for something to gawk at, zonkeys have been conceived in the wild, though it is rare.
This little ball of a squeezable adorableness is the obvious product of breeding a sheep and a goat. Breeding to produce this hybrid is not widely common, likely because it doesn’t serve much purpose besides to quell man’s curiosity. Typically, male geeps are sterile and any successful sheep-goat pairings result in a stillborn, making it uncommon for their to be a generational string of this hybrid. Physically, it is about one of the cutest hybrids to exist, offering the soft, fluffy exterior of a sheep and the sweet face of a goat.
The Blood Parrot Cichlid
This is an animal that simply has no business existing, but thanks to some Taiwanese genius in 1986, they exist – and they have quite a miserable life. Why so much controversy over the creation of the Blood Parrot Cichlid? Well, it may have something to do with the mass of anatomical deformities that they are born with. For instance, its mouth is a barely existent vertical opening, which makes the animal considerably difficult to feed; and as we learned in Biology 101, food is often an important part of a living organism’s survival. On top of their partially useless beaked-shape mouths, this hybrid also plays host to a deformed nuchal and compressed vertebrae. To ease some of the pain of being a Blood Parrot Cichlid, there has been selective breeding which corrects the inability to close their mouth.
The Savannah Cat
Most people have an eye for the adorable love a good house cat can bring and don’t see much of a need to change them at all. Of course, there is always that person – or group of people – that want to improve upon a formula that really doesn’t need improving. Introducing the Savannah Cat – or as we like to call it, Housecat version 2.0. This enlarged domesticated feline is the product of breeding a domestic cat with a serval, an African cat known for its size and elongated ears. These hybrids are longer and more slender than your average housecat, giving it a more exotic look. Another leg-up they have on housecats is their loyalty, which is often compared to that of a dog. Savannah Cats can be trained like dogs and are known to be very social animals. Though the animal is not known to be dangerous, there are still bans in many areas, such as the ban on importation into Australia, due to the fear that the animal’s enhanced size and hunting skills could pose a threat to native species.