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What's your favorite animal: lions or tigers? What's cooler: horses or zebras? Stop! Why choose one over the other when you can have both at the same time? We're talking about hybrid animals, animals of a same genus but different species producing offspring. Some of these animals you may already know, but others may surprise you.
The liger was popularized in the mid-’00s when the title character of the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” declared it his favorite animal. Although they aren’t actually “bred for their skills in magic,” the liger is a real creature, a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. When a male tiger sires offspring with a female lion, it’s called a tiglon. Other big-cat hybrids include leopons, lipards, liguars and pumapards.
Related: Read More About Ligers
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all dog breeds are the same animal. Thousands of years of selective breeding by humans have created dogs of every size and shape imaginable, but they’re all the same species, and they all started out as one animal: the wolf. That’s why we like this hybrid between -- what else? -- a dog and a wolf. It takes dogs back to their roots. Never forget where you came from, dogs. Coyote-dog and jackal-dog hybrids also exist.
When a female bottlenose dolphin and a male killer whale love each other very much, they create a wholphin. These hybrids are extremely rare and, while it is believed some can be found in the wild, only two wholphins exist in captivity. With the help of daddy's genes, wholphins grow to be the size of a 1-year-old bottlenose dolphin in a few months.
Dzos are hybrid crosses between yaks and cattle. Are you disappointed that its name isn’t a clever portmanteau of “yak” and “cow?” We were too. Its name is Tibetan, and can also be spelled “zo,” “zho” or “dzho.” Other bovine hybrids include zubrons, cattalos, beefalos and yakalos.
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Also known as a zeedonk or zonkey, the zedonk is a cross between a zebra and a donkey, as you probably guessed. As with mules, zedonks are the products of male donkeys. When the male is a zebra, the offspring is called a donkra.
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Here’s another zebra hybrid: the zorse, a cross between a male zebra and a female horse. The opposite pairing is called a horbra. The umbrella term for a hybrid of a zebra with any other equine is “zebroid,” which also includes zonies and zetlands.
Related: See More Zorses
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The ashera presents an interesting case because they may not exist at all, despite what you see. “Ashera” is a name trademarked by a company called Lifestyle Pets, which introduced asheras in 2007, claiming the animal to be a hybrid between a house cat, an African serval and an Asian leopard cat. However, DNA testing on some cats that were allegedly asheras proved that they were simply Savannah cats with a fancy new name. Oh well! Savannahs themselves are hybrids too, so it still counts.
Killer bees! They’re more correctly called Africanized bees. Did you know they’re not naturally occurring, but a man-made hybrid? Of course, Africanized bees were never meant to be “killers” at all. They were created in the ‘50s by a biologist who crossed Western honey bees with African honey bees, hoping for a best-of-both-worlds hybrid that could survive in the South American jungle. He got that, but he didn’t count on the new bees also being incredibly territorial and aggressive. Africanized bees kill only a few people in the U.S. each year, but because they’re so adaptable, they’re spreading into the American Southwest at an astounding rate.
The first cama was created in 1998 in Dubai. The hybrid is the result of breeding a male dromedary camel with a female llama. The goal of the cama was to bring the best of the camel and llama worlds together. Camas have the strength and stature of a camel, mixed with the gentle temperament and wooly fur of a llama. Hopefully they bred out the spitting too.
If you were hoping that a blood parrot was somehow a cross between a parrot and a big ol’ bucket of blood, we’re sorry to disappoint you. In fact, a blood parrot isn’t a parrot or even a bird at all. It’s a fish, the hybrid of a Midas cichlid and a red head cichlid, and first created in Taiwan in 1986.