40 Rare Hybrids of the Animal Kingdom

Bild: Peter Etchells / Shutterstock.com

Many hybrids occur in nature, and many others are introduced through human intervention. Animals bred on farms or as livestock are common to crossbreed because they can be isolated without adjusting to captivity.

Many breeders have introduced hybrids in the past that exist even today. Most hybrids occurring in nature happen accidentally and are a rarity. Other often strange hybrids that occur by accident in the wild are not natural adaptations or caused by humans.

Let’s take a closer look at some genetic cousins of everyday animals and other species of our ecosystem. We have put together a slideshow of 40 rare animal hybrids.

1. Liger, lion/tiger hybrid

Bild: Giusparta / Shutterstock.com

If a female tiger gives birth to a kitten that looks a bit like a little cub, the father may be a lion. A female tiger that mates with a male lion can produce what is commonly called a liger, a hybrid is created by human breeders.

Tigers and lions generally do not inhabit the same areas to accidentally occur in the wild, and are only bred in captivity by humans. Their vital organs cannot support their overgrown size, giving them a lower lifespan and quality of life. They are raised in habitats and cannot be introduced into the wild.

2. Hinny, lady donkey meets male horse

Ragesoss, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A hinny is a crossbreed between a female donkey and a male horse. A mule results from a cross between a female horse and a male donkey. Mules have the body of a horse and features of a donkey, but hinnies have a donkey’s body and features of a horse.

Breeding a female horse (or mare) and a male donkey (or jack) produces a mule. A donkey mare (also a jenny or jennet) that is smaller than a stallion produces a hinny smaller than a mule. Some hinnies look like their horse mothers but seldom to never resemble their fathers.

3. Cama, camel/llama hybrid

In Dubai, the Camel Reproduction Center was trying to develop sheep that would produce more wool when they decided to crossbreed a llama with a camel.

Since a camel is six times heavier than a llama, they used artificial insemination. This created cama more docile than a camel, producing more wool. Unable to reproduce, the first cama became sexually mature at age four.

The cama displayed desires to breed with a female guanaco and llama. He also showed poor temperament. More recent attempts have bred a more gentle cama. Inseminating a female camel with llama sperm does not produce offspring.

4. Grolar (“grizzly polar”) or pizzly bear

Bild: –Xocolatl (talk) 15:25, 29 November 2009 (UTC), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brown bears (grizzlies) usually do not have much chance to encounter polar bears of the north. Since they do not have much in common besides they never go out of their way to discover each other either.

Recently, because of an ever-changing climate and various new environmental factors shrinking the ice caps, many polar bears venture further south and wind up finding a mate from their more grizzly descendants of brown bears.

When this warmer weather prevails, climate change brings more grolar and pizzly bears into the world of hybrids and the northern reaches of Canada and the United States.

5. The zorse, or zebra horse

A zorse is a cross between a horse and a zebra. Stripes on a zorse are not as dark or of the stark contrast as on a zebra, though some do have stripes more as a zebra does.

Dark stripes usually cover their legs and backend, and may likely be found on the neck and head. Donkeys make better cousins for horses than zebras, however, and the common result of crossbreeding horses with zebras is dwarfism.

The zorse is very much like its parent the horse in shape, size, and color. The zorse typically inherits the temperament of its mother.

6. Savannah cats, domestic cats gone wild

Bild: Kolomenskaya Kseniya / Shutterstock.com

When you cross a domestic cat with an African serval wild cat you get the Savannah cat, a more docile hybrid offspring. The Savannah cat inherits its long legs, big ears, and long neck from the African wild cat, and does not carry over any health issues from hybridization.

Male Savannahs are typically larger than female breeds. Only the first few generations of such cats inherit the traits of the African wild cat. Savannah cats make great house pets that became popular in the 1990s, but they were not recognized as a true cat breed until very recently in 2001.

7. Wholphin, falser killer whale/dolphin hybrid

Bild: Mark Interrante from Silicon Valley, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wholphin is a rare breed of dolphin derived from a bottlenose dolphin mating with a false killer whale. This is not technically a hybrid species because a false killer whale is considered part of the same dolphin family.

While it is uncommon to find a wolphin bred in captivity, it is even rarer for a wholphin to be born in the wild. Many still consider the wholphin to be a hybrid by category.

These gentle giants inherit all the same friendly and playful traits of their parent bottlenose dolphin that is known to be intelligent and kind toward other beings.

8. Where’s the beefalo?

Bild: Karl Young, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bison were in the plains of early America, but cattle were not. When the first settlers came they accidentally crossbred cattle with bison. After learning the benefits of creating beefalo, pioneers continued crossbreeding cattle and bison.

Over time beefalo became wild when set free from tornados, storms, thieving bandits, or loosed by migrating herds traveling through the same plain. Today, a large number of beefalo wreak havoc on the ecosystem surrounding the Grand Canyon, drinking the water dry from waterholes and devouring all the edible vegetation. This has spurred a debate over the possibility of capturing and domesticating them again.

9. Tigon, offspring of male tiger/female lion

Tigon is the offspring of a male tiger and female lion, whereas a liger’s father is a male lion and mother is a female tiger. A liger is too big for its own good, suffering heart failure and other health issues, but a tigon does not have the same problem.

A tigon is light enough to support its own weight while hunting and is not affected by dwarfism. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Shambala Preserve had both a tigon named Noelle who had a ti-tigon son named Nathaniel, as detailed in “The Cats of Shambala” by Tippi Hedren.

10. Wolfdog, more wolf than dog…

Bild: Mariomassone, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wolfdogs come from crossbreeding wolves with dogs. This does not occur in the wild, but comes from trying to create a wolf-like dog. While a wolfdog may be friendly for the first few years of its life, it cannot be domesticated and will still behave like a wild animal if kept in captivity as it matures.

Another issue facing the wolfdog is it cannot return to the wild because it does not come from the wild. It would neither be scavenger nor predator enough. Consequently, federal and state laws govern wolfdogs as pets, and in some states they are illegal.

11. Jaglion, Panthera heirs to the animal kingdom

Bild: IMAGO / PA Images

Panthera breeds are like heirs to a kingdom. An awe-inspiring cross between a lioness and a jaguar. A jaglion (or jaguon) is more similar to a leopard than either a jaguar or lion. This one has a unique and stunning color.

This hybrid is three species in one, a lion and a jaguar/leopard or jagupard. A jagupard, jagulep or jagleop is the hybrid of a jaguar and a leopardess. A leguar or lepjag is the hybrid of a male leopard and a female jaguar.

A male lion and a female jaguar produce a liguar as offspring. If a liguar mates with a leopard, they produce a leoliguar.

12. Narluga, two whales in love

Narlugas are wild hybrids that occur when narwhales and beluga whales come with proximity due to climate changes. Though they have the body the shape of the begula whale, they have the color of a narwhale.

While the head of a narwhale has a long, protruding horn, the head of nargula whale is like that of the narwhale without any such horn. Belugas have teeth, while narwhals have tusks, which are really just huskier teeth.

Wherever you spy a narwhale chilling with belugas, there may be a chance of romance between them to bring more of this hybrid species around.

13. Mule birds

Bild: Sergi tgn, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A mule bird comes from mating a canary with a goldfinch. Once they were bred and sold as British finches. In 1981, the British government made it illegal to hunt them or capture them, because of excessive hunting and catching that was making their population sparse.

The popularity and diversity of mule birds and their varieties led to the creation of many other hybrid mule bird species and other combinations inspired by breeding finches, including breeds of all kinds of mule canary. Mule canary is umbrella terminology that also refers to pintagol breeds or hooded siskin hybrids and many others.

14. Blood parrot cichlid

The blood parrot cichlid is a hybrid of uncertain origins first bred in Tawain in the late 1980’s. Believed a crossbreed between the Midas and Gold Severum cichlid, the actual parents remain unconfirmed.

This hybrid cichlid is the subject of controversy because of its inability to close its mouth when consuming food. This makes it hard for the blood parrot cichlid to eat.

This causes him to often leave a messy trail for other scavengers who will steal from him and predators who will make him into their next repast. Many people believe their creation is unethical for this reason.

15. Mulards or Mule ducks

Bild: Atlasroutier, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Crossing a Muscovy drake (or male duck) with a Pekin (or Long Island duck) hen results in a Mulard (or Mule) duck, which gave it the name Mulard. The Mulard duck hybrid should not be confused with the Mallard duck, which is just another duck.

A Mulard or Mule duck is sometimes also called a Barbarie or Barbary duck. A Mulard produces better foie gras (duck liver) and red meat, has plumper breasts, and thicker thighs. As you can imagine, many restaurants with Muscovy and Pekin on the menu are also sure to serve rich and flavorful Mule ducks too!

16. Coydog, part coyote/part dog

Once upon in Mexico, the coydog came into being through popular breeding. A cross between coyote and dog creates a hybrid more like a coyote than a dog.

A coydog is only bred in captivity, but cannot adapt to captivity. Definitely no good as pets, coydogs create controversy over disturbing the natural wildlife. While illegal in most states, it is difficult to know if a hybrid is a coydog, wolfdog, wild or domestic dog.

Since such hybrids are rare and do not occur in nature, a dog (by law) is presumed a dog until someone (or the dog) proves otherwise.

17. Dzo is more dignified than yak

Bild: Markrosenrosen, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take one Mongolian yak and one Tibetan cattle and the result you will get is a more resilient and enduring breed of animal called the dzo, and many times called a yattle. Yattle or dzo produce more milk and meat than their parents.

Males are sterile, however, which makes breeding dzo harder to achieve. For the most part, that means there has to be a particular purpose and reason for breeding the dzo, and it is usually done through careful planning.

Farmers with yak and cattle already could easily create one instead of spend money on another beast of burden.

18. Mangalica on the side

Bild: IMAGO / Ukrinform

The Mangalica is a Hungarian breed of domestic pig resembling a sheep that nearly went extinct in the 1980s, but was revived by avid farmers and survived producing lard. It looks quite unusual. Indeed, who would expect a pig to have such a fell that resembles the one of a sheep?

Also called the Mangalitsa or Mangalitza, this hybrid quite exactly comes from crossbreeding Hungarian sheep from Nagyszalonta and Bakony with the European wild boar and the Serbian Šumadija sheep.

The Mangalica pig grows a very thick and curly coat of abundant fur, but is best known for its ability to produce flavorful sausage.

19. Bernedoodle or mountain poodle?

Bernedoodles are a cross between a Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle. Often considered an allergy-free version of the Poodle. They are gentle but playful and enjoy running and swimming. Plus, how cute is he? Everyone is going to love him.

They inherit the best traits of both parents, with no genetic deficiencies from hybridization. The Bernese Mountain Dog is taller and has shorter hair than a Bernedoodle and makes a good watchdog, often used for herding.

Poodles were originally named for splashing in water when used to gather ducks and other fowl felled into the water by a hunter’s rifle or bow.

20. The Iron Age pig

Bild: Miguel Tremblay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Iron Age pig is a cross between a domestic pig and a wild boar, bred to resemble domestic boars in Iron Age cave wall paintings. These hybrids are bred in captivity and have escaped into the wild, where they have become a threat to the ecosystem in parts of the United States.

Once again, they are a breed that sparks debate as to whether to remove them from the ecosystem, which includes making them illegal to own and breed in captivity.

At the moment, they are bred mostly to serve in the meat industry. They are more difficult to domesticate than the pigs that we usually know.

21. Geep, half goat/half sheep

Half goat and half sheep, geep/shoat hybrids are hard to find. Geep is the more commonly used reference over shoat, which is also used to refer to a piglet that has been weaned. A “sheep-goat-chimera” refers to sheep and goat embryos combined in a lab.

A mature geep’s “sheep” parts are woolly and “goat” parts are hairy. Geeps have the body of a goat and a head like a lamb with a goat’s face. Most are stillborn. A lab-produced “chimera” does survive birth and can reproduce, but produces only sheep or goat as offspring.

Anyway, the one on this picture does look really cute.

22. Coywolf, part coyote/part wolf

When wolves and coyotes mate, an unusual hybrid often occurs in the wild called the coywolf, inheriting some behavior of both parents. Imagine a mischievous scavenger that doubles as a deadly predator, living a little closer to your home.

That is what the coywolf is, but many times the hybrid is mistaken for either wolf or coyote when sighted near civilization. The coywolf is normally between the size of a coyote and wolf, and might appear to be a smaller wolf or larger-than-normal coyote.

Some different sorts of coywolves do exist, as hybrids developed in different parts of the world.

23. Zonkey, or zebra/donkey

What happens when you mate a zebra with a donkey? Yep, you get a zonkey or zedonk. Crossbreeding zebra and donkey is not a seamless process, unfortunately, and the result is dwarfism.

Yet, these creatures inherit beneficial traits from both their parents, the agility of a zebra and stamina of a donkey. The zonkey is usually tan, brown, or gray in color, but has a lighter underside.

The zonkey’s darker stripes are more easily seen on the lighter underside and legs. Like other equines, they feed on grass and herbs commonly found on the ground. How cute is this one?

24. Leopons and lipards in Japan

A cross of a lioness and a male leopard is called a leopon. The leopon is like a leopard with the head of a lioness. Unfortunately, the leopon is a creature that is only bred in captivity, and the chances of a leopon occurring naturally are almost none.

A lioness and leopard would not likely mate in perfect isolation, and climate and behavior would rarely bring the lioness and leopard within proximity of one another. The leopon is a beautiful creature to behold. A male lion and leopardess produce a lipard. Leopons and lipards were originally bred in Japan. This one looks really beautiful, doesn’t it?

25. Zubron, part cow/part bison

Bild: Cloudfish at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Much like beefalo came into being when cattle were inadvertently bred with buffalo, the zubron is an intentionally introduced offspring of a cow and bison.

In Europe, the zubron was introduced to replace cattle, but this attempt failed and only a small herd is left wandering in Bialowieski National Park, which is located for one part in Poland and for the other in Belarus. Zubron are very large and strong and tough, able to survive harsh winters and more resistant to disease. Zubrons were first introduced in 1847 but are no longer actively being bred. So there are only few chances you’ll meet one of them.

26. Toyger, Bengal meets tabby cat

Bild: Heikki Siltala, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Toyger cat combines a big-boned Bengal cat and a striped Domestic Shorthair tabby cat. In the 1980s, Judy Sugden realized crossbreeding a Bengal breed with a tabby cat would produce the Toyger.

Toygers were used to raise political awareness of conservation efforts for tigers in the wild. Today there are 500 registered Toygers worldwide. Toygers do not occur naturally and only survive as domesticated pets that mimic their larger parent species.

They make great house pets are playful companions, more docile and gentle than their wilder tiger parent side. After seeing this picture, many of us will want to have one at home.

27. Li-tigon, or liger plus tigon

A li-tigon is an offspring created when a liger is mated with a tigon where either parent has artic ancestors or descends from a tiger or lion/lioness ancestor.

A li-tigon is akin to a liger, which is created when a lion mates with a tiger. If one parent was a white lion or lioness or the tigon happened to descend from a white or white Bengal tiger, it could be called a li-tigon.

In a Chinese zoo in Haikou, a 6-year-old tigon gave birth to two li-tigons in June 2016. It is quite unique, because you can’t see tigons in many zoos.

28. Green sea slugs

This one looks quite incredible. The green sea slug makes its own chlorophyll like a plant, either consuming it as food or allowing it to thrive like offspring. Green sea slugs can manufacture chlorophyll by capturing energy from sunlight, which creates the green pigment in plants as well as gives the slug its green color.

These leaf-shaped slugs also rely on chlorophyll reserves from varieties of algae that are part of their regular diet. The green sea slug takes chloroplasts from photosynthetic organelles in the algae that it eats, and absorbs them into its own cells. If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em!

29. Zony, a Shetland pony plus a zebra

A cross between a Shetland pony mare and a zebra stallion that resembles a horse is called a zony. The Shetland pony is a sturdy little horse originally found on a farm on the Shetland Islands.

Because grassland was limited, these horses were ideal for their slim diets, and would even eat seaweed. Accustom to harsh climates, they live in most places throughout the world, no matter hot or cold. Zonies inherit these traits as well as the characteristics of zebras, which is why while they must eat more, they eat more things. They also inherit their small size from the Shetland pony and the stripes from the zebra.

30. Pumapard, female leopard plus puma

Bild: outdoorsman / Shutterstock.com

Crossing a male puma with a female leopard gives you a pumapard. Dwarfism is common in this hybrid. It also cannot grow to be as large as a puma or leopard. While a leopard is a member of the Panthera family, the puma and cougar are not.

The puma is none of the largest of small cats, and the pumapard as well. Introduced around 1800 after a puma and a leopard were left in the same cage overnight, this hybrid is nothing like its wild leopard parent. The pumapard is little more frightening than an Ewok and quite tiny besides.

31. Huarizo camelid hybrids

The most common hybrid between South American camelids is the huarizo. Smaller than a llama, a huarizo is a cross between a male llama and a female alpaca.

The alpaca is a South American camelid mammal similar to the llama. Alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas, but the two species are closely related and can be crossbred.

The huarizo has the body of an alpaca, but is less tall and a face like that of a llama. Fibre produced by a huarizo is coarser than that of alpacas and llamas. As they are quite common, you might well encounter one of them if you ever go to South America.

32. Polecat–mink hybrid species

Bild: Paul A Carpenter / Shutterstock.com

Known as khonorik by fanciers and Khor-make by furriers, the polecat-mink is a cross between a European polecat and a European mink. Such hybridization is more than rare to occur in the wild and is only documented in areas where European mink are declining in number.

European mink are a semi-aquatic species of mustelid related to the polecat and weasel. In fact, the European mink is not even as closely related to the American mink as it is to the Western polecat and Siberian weasel.

They look quite similar to both european mink and european polecat, they just have a different color and pattern on the face.

33. Polecat–ferret hybrids

Bild: TatyanaPanova / Shutterstock.com

Ferrets are in the same family as badgers, wolverines, otters, European and American mink, Siberian weasels, and Western polecats. The domestic ferret is very closely related to the European polecat.

A ferret that is a cross between a wild European polecat and a domestic ferret is a hybrid polecat-ferret. A white neckband and white paws generally distinguish the polecat-ferret, along with white fur on their faces.

We usually know them as domestic animals. However, you can find them in nature as well. A small amount of hybrids exists, so they can have various colors. The white ferret is known to be the most ancient breed of ferret.

34. Cat marten hybrids and beech and pine marten

Bild: David OBrien / Shutterstock.com

The pine marten has an auburn head, brown body, yellow underside. The polecat has white stripes on its face and a black band around its muzzle that resembles a mask. Beech martens mixed with domestic cats tend to look like Siamese cats.

The pine marten’s ears are long and prominent compared to the polecat. Both beech and pine martens can be made to produce cat-martens. These hybrids are rarer than others because they do not occur in the wild and are not commonly bred.

This one looks again quite similar to the animals we have just seen, the yellow underside and the pattern on the face allow to differentiate them.

35. Gamebirds and hybrids

Bild: WaceQ / Shutterstock.com

Crossbreeding between game bird species, notably wild and domestic ducks and other poultry from livestock, produces the ever famous gamebird.

There are many hybrid species of gamebirds that are commonly found in the wild, many or most may have been introduced by humans when breeders could not contain crossbreeds. Many domesticated gamebirds are bred in captivity.

While bred gamebirds are more diverse and numerous than wild gamebirds, wild hybrids gamebirds are in constant supply, That is because there are enough various game birds in the wild to keep the population of hybrid gamebirds from ever dwindling. Have you ever seen one of those birds?

36. Hebra, male horse/female zebra

Bild: Imago / Xinhua

You know that a zorse is made from a male horse and female zebra. Only slightly lesser well-known is the hebra. As you may have guessed it, a hebra is the opposite in the context of sexuality.

Being part male zebra and part female horse has its immediate advantages that allow the hebra more stamina than a zebra without being quite as heavy as a horse.

That means there is less weight for the hebra to support and feed. Also, once again, the zebra gene allows the hebra to eat more things than a horse or even a zorse could.

37. Mule, male donkey/female horse

Bild: Grady Harwood / Shutterstock.com

A mule is a male donkey and a female horse combined. Horses and donkeys are different species, and technically that means they have different chromosomes and DNA.

The hinny is produced from a female donkey and male horse, but is much harder to come by than a mule. A mule is made to be more resilient than a donkey by acquiring more horsepower to be a harder working animal.

Mules are draft animals made for labor and tasks that require a stubborn animal, but as we all know, mules can also be stubborn about nothing. On the other hand, they can also be very sweet, just like this one looks.

38. Li-liger, pure lion plus liger

Bild: Imago / Xinhua

In 1943, a 15-year-old hybrid between a lion and tiger (called a liger) was successfully mated with a pure lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub was rather delicate, but was raised to maturity.

Before this, ligers were believed to be all sterile, but a liger crossbreeding with pure lion proves they are not, and they can reproduce. However, the resulting offspring so far proves a more fragile version of hybrid species, though only the one case at Munich Hellabrunn Zoo is documented.

Now, how cute are those two on the picture? Every time such a birth occurs in a zoo, it is a big event, and many visitors come to see the baby ligers.

39. Ti-liger or tig-liger

Bild: Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock.com

In 1988, Josip Marcan bred his female liger to a pure tiger, producing the first ti-liger or tig-liger. The Zoological Wildlife Foundation of Miami also had a ti-liger in the 2010s-2020s.

The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma was home to two ti-ligers sired by a Siberian and white tiger. Tiger World in Rockwell, North Carolina also hosted its own ti-ligers. Despite all the attraction, there were only 6 known ti-ligers by 2020.

This one looks almost unreal, because of the orange color of his fur. But he is, and a lot of visitors come to see him at the zoo every year.

40. Ti-tigon, pure tiger/tigon

Bild: Imago / Anka Agency International

A ti-tigon is an offspring created when a pure tiger is mated with a tigon where either parent has artic ancestors or descends from a tiger or lion/lioness ancestor. You can see the characteristic pattern on his fur.

While a li-tigon is a cross between a liger and tigon, which is created when a pure lion mates with a tigon. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Shambala Preserve had both a tigon named Noelle who had a ti-tigon son.

Noelle was housed with three pure tigresses and a 5-year-old Siberian tiger named Anton, who she mated with to produce the first documented ti-tigon named Nathaniel.