As Earth has encountered many different changes - a warming planet, environmental erosion, and loss of species - animals are trying to adapt. And one way they do that is through crossbreeding.
How does crossbreeding work? It's the strengthening of the genes of one animal by breeding with a stronger mate of another animal. Sometimes, these strange animal mating partners are a result of nature, and other times, they're a human-made match. While these crazy animal crossbreeds may look beautiful, there is one thing many of these exotic animal hybrids suffer from. Many crossbreed animals are born sterile.
Some exotic crossbreeds are created because of human intervention and methods of selective breeding. Crossbreeding can only occur with animals that belong to the same families or subfamilies. Only one particular type of crossed animals, such as the geep (a goat-sheep mix), are from entirely different classes. These kinds of animals are not genetic hybrids but instead referred to as genetic chimeras. Amazing right? Check out more interesting and strange crossbreed animals you probably didn’t know were real.
The zonkey is a cross between a male zebra and a female donkey that belongs to a class of various zebra hybrids called zebroids. Although most zebroids are sterile, zebra hybrids have been reproduced since the 19th century. They were first bred for transporting and hauling weaponry but later were bred for exotic riding mounts.
The main reason zebras were chosen to cross with purebred equines was to create a mount that posed a higher level of immunity and resistance against disease.
In early 2020, a zonkey was born at the Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya. Caregivers rescued the impregnated zebra and brought her to the national park, where she surprised everyone by giving birth to the mule.
The grolar bear, also known as the pizzly bear, is a cross between a polar bear and a brown grizzly bear. The first scientific verification of grolar bears was confirmed in the wild after DNA tests revealed both species were breeding together, producing the hybrid bear. Since then, the hybrid has been bred successfully in captivity for zoos. While these animals are pretty cool looking, the reason they started crossbreeding in the first place is actually really sad.
These bears bred out of desperation, thanks to climate change destroying their habitats. This new breed causes polar bears and grizzly bears to invade each others' territory during the breeding season because resources are scarce.
The jaglion is a cross between a male jaguar and a female lion, which both belong to the genus class known as panthera. Most panthera hybrid males are infertile, giving them little chance of surviving in the wild. While some of these hybrids were bred by human selection, historic research reveals these hybrids sometimes occurred naturally in the wild.
Most jaglions are selectively bred for exotic pet purposes. However, there are some cases where unintended breedings have successfully occurred within sanctuaries.
The coywolf is a cross between a male wolf and a female coyote that belongs to the canid hybrid class. Coywolves produce naturally in the wild. The reason these species crossed is said to have stemmed from habitat changes and a decrease in space. One fortunate aspect of this crossbreed combination is that this hybrid is known to be fertile, so they are highly suitable to survive in the wild. These hybrids tend to be larger than coyotes and look less like wolves.
These creatures are becoming so prevalent, some groups worry their genetic makeup is diluting that of real wolves. Researchers are trying to sterilize wild coyotes to stop them from breeding with endangered species of wolves, hoping this will increase the population of pure wolves in the United States.