Hybrid Animals

Topics: Donkey, Hybrid, Horse Pages: 2 (649 words) Published: February 20, 2006
What do you get when you mix a cow and a buffalo? A beefalo. What do you get when you mix a zebra and a horse? A zorse, of course. These may sound like silly jokes told by a preschooler, but these animals do exist and there are many other combinations of animals. A hybrid animal is the offspring of two different species or populations (Wikipedia). There are already hybrid animals in existence that occur in nature and some that are being created by science. In this paper, some examples, characteristics, problems, and ethical considerations of hybrid animals will be discussed.

There are many types of hybrid animals in existence today. The liger has recently become popular due to the movie "Napoleon Dynamite," in which the protagonist proclaims ligers to be his favorite animal (www.nationalgeographic.com/news). The liger is the offspring of a lion and tiger and there have been reports of its existence since 1861 when Darwin commented on this phenomenon in his book, The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication. He said, "…there are several instances of the female tiger breeding with the lion. Strange as the fact may appear, many animals under confinement unite with distinct species and produce hybrids quite as freely as, or even more freely than, with their own species." Most non-genetically engineered hybrids live in captivity in open zoos. The liger uses the portmanteau method for the name, which takes the two parent's species to form a zany, memorable name. The method uses the male parent's species for the first part and the female for the second part. Therefore, a liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger (Guynup).

Another hybrid animal to be discussed is one that most people may not think of as being a hybrid: the mule. The mule is a combination of a female horse and a male donkey. The mule, like the liger, is an interspecific hybrid. An interspecific hybrid is mating of two different species within the same...
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