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Ligers, Grolars and the mixed-up world of hybrid animals

Team StoryWeavers|October 10, 2020| 2

We’ve all heard of the phenomenal hybrid creatures in mythology that surpass everyone’s imagination, but did you know that hybrid animals exist in real life and they’re just as impressive?

Though it rarely occurs in nature, individuals from different but closely related species do occasionally mate. The result is a biological hybrid — an offspring that shares traits from both parent species.

We’ve found some of the most unique hybrids which actually exist, and their names are as interesting as their looks.

Ligers 

Ligers are the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger, and they are the largest of all living cats and felines. Their massive size may be a result of imprinted genes which are not fully expressed in their parents but are left unchecked when the two different species mate. They enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions and unlike the solitary tiger. 

Some female ligers can grow to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 300 Kgs. Hercules, the largest non-obese liger, is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest living cat on Earth, weighing 418.2 kg! 

Since lions and tigers in the wild occupy different habitats, ligers do not occur naturally. The breeding of ligers has come under fire from animal rights activists and organisations, who argue that the health problems experienced by these animals makes it immoral to breed them in captivity. 

Grolar Bears

The offspring of a Grizzly Bear and a Polar Bear, a ‘Grolar Bear’ is unlike many other hybrid animals in that they are known to occur naturally in the wild. The first reported grolar bear sighting occurred in Canada in 2006, when a hunter in the Arctic took down an odd-looking bear—white with brown patches. The DNA testing later confirmed it was part-grizzly, part-polar bear.

Some scientists say that it might be that climate change, which has had a profound impact in the Arctic, caused a change of habitat for polar bears. And this change in habitat has resulted in the mating of these two species.

However, what’s interesting is that polar bears branched off of grizzly bears rather recently in evolutionary terms ( by recently we mean millions of years ago ). And that is why both these bear species share a very similar DNA structure.

So it’s a possibility that these species may fuse and return to become one species. This may very well be where polar bears and grizzly bears are headed. (But of course, this is evolution so it’s not predetermined!)

Savannah Cats


The Savannah cat has become a popular pet, because of its interesting and exotic appearance as well as its very characteristic tameness and fondness of their owners.

This beautiful breed was created by cross-breeding a domestic cat with an African wild cat. The first litter was born in 1986, with only one kitten. The kitten was named Savannah, which also became the breed’s name.

Most cats are not too fond of water. But Savannah cats are known for their love of water, and it is not unusual to find them swimming and splashing around,  having the time of their life!

What’s more, the Savannah cat is an active, adventurous and curious cat and its personality has been compared to dogs. The Savannahs quickly create strong bonds with their owners and often follow them around just like a dog.

Wholphin

While a wholphin may sound like the stuff of fantasies  (or nightmares!) a whale/dolphin hybrid is in fact, real! A liger was one thing. We could wrap our brains around a lion and tiger crossover pretty easily, but the thought of a whale and a dolphin breeding to produce this creature? That’s pretty mind-blowing, isn’t it?

A wholphin is an extremely rare hybrid animal born from the mating of a female Bottlenose Dolphin and a male False Killer Whale. Despite its name, a false killer whale is a species of dolphin. And although these dolphins swim together in the open ocean, interspecies mating between these two are rare. 

The first recorded Wholphin was born in Tokyo SeaWorld. However, it died after just 200 days. While they have been reported to exist in the wild, only one called Kekaimalu is currently alive in captivity.

Zorse

A Zorse is a hybrid between a Zebra and a Horse. A Zorse is produced by making a (stallion) Zebra mate with a (mare) Horse. The outcome of this crossbreeding is a horse-like animal with zebra-like stripes.

Zorses are known to be a very hardy and sturdy animal. Unlike donkeys and horses, zebras are not prone to certain types of diseases and pests. They have a wild animal instinct—after all, they are part zebra. Because of this, they are often harder to train than a typical horse and have a strong temperament (and may even be aggressive).

Spotting a fully wild Zorse is nearly impossible. Some sort of human intervention will remain. The reason for this is simple. Wild zebras are common,  but wild horses are not. This means most zorses are bred in zoos and animal husbandry institutes.

Do you know any other cool hybrid animals? Tell us in the comment section below. 

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Comments


Aishik Das

November 13, 2020

Thanks byjus for this wonderful information

Aayush Kumar

November 24, 2020

I didn’t know that there is something like Grolar Bears.

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