Some animal hybrids are born in the wild due to environmental factors, while others are bred by humans for profit or scientific curiosity. Whatever the reason for their creation, new and interesting species are out there due to mixed breeding. After discovering the liger is actually real (and not just a made-up animal from Napoleon Dynamite), WD was curious about other unconventional mixes. From the groler bear (grizzly + polar) to the dzo (yak + cow), here are 10 hybrid species that are relatively new to the animal kingdom.
Bred for agricultural work in both Nepal and Mongolia, a dzo (or khainag in Mongolian) is the male offspring of a yak and a domesticated cow. The animal is 25 to 30 percent heavier than your typical Mongolian cattle, and while these beasts of burden are sterile, their meat is considered far superior to that of either of their parents.
A cross between the Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic house cat, Bengals were first bred between the late 19th and early 20th century by those who wanted a pet with an exotic look but a domesticated temperament. Built like a medium to large house cat, the Bengal has a coat that ranges from rust, brown or orange to sand or ivory, with spots varying in color from rust or cocoa to charcoal or black.
"Zebroid" refers to any hybrid of a zebra and another equid (a.k.a. horse species); the first recorded mix occurred in the early 19th century. Depending on the animal mix, it has different names—a female zebra and a male donkey make a zebrinny, while a male zebra and female donkey make a zedonk—but in general, the offspring is built like its non-zebra parent with the stripes of a zebra on some (but not all) of its body.
Bred in captivity both intentionally and accidentally since the early 20th century, this ferocious feline is the offspring of a male lion and female tiger. While its appearance is more like a lion, it has the subtle stripes of a tiger and, unlike water-fearing lions, enjoys swimming. Generally much larger than either parent, these usually sterile animals are among some of the biggest in the world, weighing over 1,000 pounds and sometimes measuring 12 feet long.
It wasn’t until 1998 that scientists created the first cama by breeding a female llama and male camel. But unlike most animals on this list, it was created through artificial insemination. The reason? The size difference is so significant—llamas typically weigh around 150 pounds, while camels weigh about 950 pounds—that mating would have been virtually impossible. While the cama doesn’t have a hump, it sports the camel's short ears and long tail, with the cloven hooves of the llama.
Leopons, the offspring of a male leopard and a female lion, have been bred in India, Japan, Germany and Italy. Similar in appearance to both animals, leopons have brown spots and a tufted tail, with a smaller mane than a lion, and are excellent climbers like the leopard. Famous for having the most noteworthy leopon program in the world, Koshien Hanshin Park in Nishinomiya City, Japan, bred two leopons in 1959 and three more in 1962.
The mixing of a grizzly and a polar bear in the wild was the stuff of legend until Canadian hunting guide Roger Kuptana’s discovery of a groler in 2006. While grolers have been bred in captivity for some time, polar bears in the wild prefer to mate on ice while grizzlies mate on land. But when Kuptana and the hunter he was guiding came across a polar bear with brown patches and the long claws and humped back of a grizzly, he knew right away what it was. DNA testing confirmed what may be the first documented case of a groler born in the wild.
This marine mammal is a hybrid of a dolphin and a false killer whale. The only confirmed case happened at Sea Life Park in Oahu, Hawaii, in 1985 when a 400-pound gray female bottlenose dolphin gave birth to a calf that resembled the 2,000-pound male false killer whale with which she shared a pool. Scientists also believe these animals could be mating in the wild, but have yet to confirm it.
Though these animals have been bred since the mid 20th century, the first accepted wolfdog puppies by the Club of Breeders was in 1982 when a litter was born in Brno, Czech Republic. While wolfdogs are popular pets, they have raised safety concerns because of the personality traits they share with the timber wolf: testing rank in their human family, showing signs of a pack mentality and territoriality.
Iron Age Pig
When a male wild boar and a domestic Tamworth sow come together, you get the Iron Age pig. First bred in the 1970s in an attempt to create a pig similar to the ones found during the Iron Age, they exhibit behavior that’s more wild than your typical domestic pig, but less aggressive than a wild boar. Sadly, you're most likely to find this pig at a European butcher's shop in the form of specialty sausage.