For years, cross-breeding amongst zoo animals has taken place. Taking the strengths of one breed and combining them with the strengths of another, produces a whole new animal. Many would argue that cross breeding wild animals is like crossbreeding dog breeds. However, there is a distinct difference.
While crossbred animals have been around for a while, it wasn’t until recently that they caught the attention of the public eye. Today, crossbred animals are all the rage for zoos, as they cut down on the amount of enclosures needed to house animals. Instead of having an enclosure for horses and zebras, Bristol Zoo, for example, has one enclosure for both. This is because they have an okapi – a zebra and horse cross.
In case hybrid animals interest you as much as they do us, here are some fun facts for you.
Not all animals can be crossbred
Not all animals can be crossbred. When it comes to crossbreeding, there are some animals that can never be bred together, such as a monkey and a lion, for example. For crossbreeding to be successful, the two animals must belong to the same genus and need to have the same amount of chromosomes. This is important as without the same amount of chromosomes, crossbreeding wouldn’t work. That’s why most cross breeding takes place between similar animal breeds, like big cats for example. While a camel and llama can cross breed and a cow and buffalo, a pig and a snake could not.
Hybrid animals have traits from both breeds
Most hybrid animals are born with traits from both breeds. For example, ligers – lion cross tigers tend to have the shaggy mane of a lion and the stripes of a tiger. For instance, a cross between a camel and a llama would be smaller like the llama but may have the hump of a camel. Hybrid animals take on traits from both parents like any normal animal does. For example, if a lion – known for being strong, were bred with a cheetah – known for being fast, the offspring would be both strong and fast.
There are some amazing hybrid animals
Today, there are some amazing hybrid animals. From leopons – lion cross leopards, to grolar bears – polar cross grizzly bears, there are so many crossbreeds. With so many beautiful new species around, a trip to the zoo has become even more interesting. Not only are hybrids beautiful animals but they’re also incredibly interesting to study. This is because of how similar to both their parent breeds they are.
Not all scientists think it’s a good idea
While the idea of crossbred animals appeals to many scientists, not everyone thinks it is a good idea. While these animals are interesting and unique to look at, many people believe crossbreeding is a recipe for disaster. For example, most hybrid animals are born sterile. This shows that when it comes to crossbreeding, something isn’t right. It’s little things like this that put scientists off.
There you have it, all the best facts about crossbreeding animals.