Hybrid animals have been a hot topic in the news lately. Earlier this month, there were reports of a cute geep born on a farm in Ireland, which was the result of crossbreeding a goat and a sheep. Last week there were questions surrounding a possible hybrid animal involving a dog-wolf that attacked several horses and a bicyclist, which ended up being just a dog. Just a few days ago a rare zonkey, the result of mating a donkey and zebra, was born in the Reynosa Zoo in Mexico.
These zany new creatures are just a few of the latest hybrid animals. Hybrid animals can be a results of domesticated animals, farm animals or zoo animals being crossbred with a difference animal species. The photo above is of a zorse, a cross between a zebra and a horse. This type of crossbreeding is more common than others because the animal species are more closely aligned than others.
Some other examples include the wholphin, a super rare cross between a dolphin and a killer whale, a liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger, and grolar bears, a cross between grizzly bears and polar bears. Other hybrid animals include the cama, a cross between a camel and a lama, the panthera, a lion and jaguar combination, the beefalo, a buffalo and cow combination and the red wold, a result of the gray wolf and coyote mating. This list is not exhaustive and the combinations are virtually endless.
People are fascinated by the idea of these unique creatures. Seeing the images of these crossbred animals and learning the name of such animals is entertaining. But how is it possible to create these fascinating crossbreeds? Science shows that animal species breeding with other animal species should not be able to reproduce because they are not compatible. Their lack of compatibility is based on a different number of chromosomes that the species each have.
When this rare occurrence does happen and a hybrid animal is created from two uniquely different species, the offspring is usually sterile. They are unable to reproduce the crossbreed. This adds to the rarity and uniqueness of these creatures.
The zonkey, for example, is considered rare because so few of them exist. The proteins of donkeys and zebras do not match up. The donkeys have 64 chromosomes, while the zebras only have 44. The result is a zonkey with a balance of chromosomes that falls somewhere in between its parents.spring is usually sterile. They are unable to reproduce the crossbreed. This adds to the rarity and uniqueness of these creatures.
The creation of hybrid animals is somewhat controversial. Crossbreeding almost always involves human involvement for the purpose of displaying them for entertainment, either in a zoo or at a farm. Privately owned hybrids may not receive the proper care needed for such a rare animal. Some people also believe that it is unethical to alter the genetics of animals. Much like people who believe dogs should be purebreds and consider anything less a mutt, some people think that it is wrong to crossbreed species to create hybrid animals.
As a result of crossbreeding, farms and zoos are able to create unique hybrid animals to display that draw attention from curious visitors. It is fascinating how these creatures were formed through an unlikely process of mating animals that are not compatible.
By Tracy Rose