8 Strange Animal Hybrids

Very little interspecies mingling takes place in the animal kingdom, since creatures tend to prefer the company of their own kind. But even though most hybrid animals live in captivity and are the result of human intervention, both nature and people have managed to produce some pretty unlikely animal hook-ups. Here are some of the strangest ones on record.

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The mule, a donkey-horse crossbreed, is one of the world's most common animal hybrids.

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1. Lion + Tigress = Liger

Not only is the liger pretty much Napoleon Dynamite's favorite animal-"bred for its skills in magic"-it is also larger than both its parents, making it the largest of all cats. Like many animal hybrids, however, ligers face a variety of health risks and often have a very limited life span, as well as birth defects and other mutations.

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2. Zebra (Stallion) + Horse (Mare) = Zorse

A zorse is a "zebroid"-the generic name for all zebra hybrids. Types of zebroids include the zony, which is a cross between a zebra stallion and pony mare, as well as the zedonk (a.k.a. zonkey or zebronkey), a cross between a Zebra stallion and donkey jenny. Zebroids can be pretty feisty and are said to be much more temperamental and difficult to handle than purebred horses.

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3. African Serval + Domestic Cat (Female) = Savannah Cat

The first Savannah cat, named Savannah, was a crossbreed of a male Serval and a Siamese domestic cat. Savannahs are one of the larger-sized breeds of domesticated cats, and their temperament is actually more like a dog's-they are very loyal, affectionate creatures and will often follow their owners around. Savannahs can be trained to walk on a leash and they even like to play fetch.  

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4. Grizzly Bear + Polar Bear (Sow) = Grolar Bear

Because polar bears and grizzlies both live by themselves in large open habitats, the probability of these two coming together as star-crossed lovers is slim. Although grolar bear sightings have been reported in the past, neither species can survive long in the other's ecological niche; plus, they have very different social and feeding behaviours. In 2006, near Sachs Harbour in the Northwest Territories, a hunter from Idaho named Jim Martell found and shot a grizzly-polar bear hybrid, believing it was a normal polar bear. Had the bear been deemed a grizzly, he would have faced a possible $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

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5. False Killer Whale + Bottlenose Dolphin (Cow) = Wholphin

There have been some reports of wholphins in the wild, but currently there are only two in captivity, at the Sea Life Park in Hawaii. The wholphin's size, colour and shape are intermediate between the parent species. Although false killer whales and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are different species, they are not that far apart in taxonomy, and scientists classify them within the same family.

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6. Coyote (Dog) + Dog (Bitch) = Coydog

Coydogs are canid hybrids. Dogotes-the result of breeding a male domestic dog with a female coyote-also exist, but these are fairly rare in the wild, partly because female coyotes are fertile for only about 60 days of the year. It is said that wild coydogs and dogotes can be dangerous, as they allegedly have the cunning of coyotes without their natural fear of humans.  

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7. Horse (Mare) + Donkey (Jack) = Mule

The mule is a sturdy, hard-working animal and one of the most useful hybrids for agriculture in the world. Its median weight range can be anywhere between 800 to 1,000 pounds (363 to 454 kg), and it can be packed with "dead weight" of up to 20 percent of its body mass. The mule is pound-for-pound stronger than a horse of similar size and also possesses the high intelligence of a donkey. Mules also tend to require less food than similarly-sized horses.

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8. Camel (Bull) + Llama (Female) = Cama

In 1998 a cama named Rama was successfully produced via artificial insemination. The goal was to create an animal with the size and strength of a camel but the cooperative temperament of a llama. Things didn't work out as expected, and apparently Rama the cama displayed extremely poor temperament.

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Controversial Animal-Human Hybrid

For years now, the production of cow-human hybrid embryos-which could potentially be turned into any tissue in the human body and perhaps even treat diseases such as Parkinson's, strokes and Alzheimer's-has been subject to a great deal of controversy. Critics say it is highly unethical and potentially dangerous.