Have you ever seen a picture of a centaur and wondered what life would be like if those half-human half-horse creatures actually roamed the planet? What if griffins lived in the skies? Seeing a part-lion part-eagle beast zooming through the clouds would be jaw-dropping — and terrifying!
While both of those particular creatures only exist within the confines of fiction, there are some very unusual hybrids that actually do exist! One thing these gorgeous animals all have in common? They look like they could’ve been ripped from the pages of a fantasy novel…
1. Zorse: This equestrian beauty is what you get when you mix a zebra and a horse. They were first bred in the nineteenth century by Charles Darwin, but nowadays, they’re extremely rare because they’re either sterile or infertile.
2. Wholphin: This rare hybrid is a mix between a killer whale and a bottlenose dolphin. They breed naturally and exist in the wild, but you don’t have to go for a swim to find them — there’s one living at Sea Life Park in Hawaii.
emorlie / Instagram
3. Beefalo: These grazing animals are the offspring of American buffaloes and domestic cattle. The first accidental crossing of these species occurred about 300 years ago, but scientists deliberately engineered the specimen to help with the beef production industry in 1880.
Mark Spearman / Flickr
4. Liger: Anyone who’s seen the film Napoleon Dynamite knows this was Napoleon’s favorite animal, but it’s also one of the world’s most popular hybrids, too. A male lion and female tiger make up this unique beauty.
5. Grolar bear: If you’ve ever wondered what the offspring of a grizzly bear and a polar bear looks like, check out grolar bears. Most of the mating happens in the wild, but it’s rare — both species tend to avoid each other.
6. Zonkey: This cute little four-legged fella is the cross between a zebra and a donkey. While he may be all donkey from the torso up, those striped legs scream zebra all the way.
7. Dzo: This animal is a cross between a domestic cow and a yak. They originated in Mongolia and Tibet. They tend to be stronger and larger than cows and yaks, and they also produce larger quantities of milk and meat.
Petr Meissner / Flickr
8. Savannah cat: This unique breed of cat is often compared to dogs in terms of its loyalty and intelligence, and they can even be trained like dogs as well. The breed mainly exists in the wild, and it’s a mix of a domestic house cat and African wild cat.
Michele Keeler / Instagram
9. Cama: If you mix together a male camel and female llama, you have yourself a cama. They basically look like smaller, fluffier camels. Scientists artificially reproduced them to create an animal that generated a larger amount of wool than a llama.
10. Leopon: The gorgeous and almost majestic coat on this animal is the result of a lioness mating with a male leopard. The very first leopon was produced in India in 1910, and by 2018, there were only 100 of them in the world.
11. Hinny: These mixtures of male horses and female donkeys are slightly smaller than horses, and they have thicker fur coats. They also cannot reproduce on their own, making them very difficult to obtain.
12. Wolfdog: You can probably guess what two animals make up this species! They were first bred together for people who wanted to own exotic-looking animals. Because they’re genetic mixtures of both dogs and wolves, it’s difficult to predict physical and behavioral characteristics.
13. Tigon: This hybrid is a cross between a female lion and a male tiger. Because they’re sterile, they can only exist in captivity; however, in 1943, a female tigon actually mated with a male lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The cubs were raised into adulthood.
quatzakotelwoingenau / Imgur
14. Geep: This adorable animal is the rare crossbreed between a sheep and a goat. Although sheep and goats are very similar, when they breed with each other, their offspring are more often than not stillborn.
jeremy_binns / Instagram
15. Jaglion: This mystical-eyed animal is the cross between a male jaguar and female lion. Funny enough, it was actually unintentionally bred when a jaguar and lion lived together in the same zoo enclosure.
Bear Creek Sanctuary
16. Zebroid: This animal looks a lot like a horse, but that coat has zebra written all over it. Zebroid is the term given to a zebra mixed with any other type of equestrian animal — and this one looks fantastical!
17. Zubron: This mix was originally thought to be an optimal replacement for cattle because they were stronger and more resistant to the kinds of diseases that would wipe out entire herds. However, the only remaining zubrons exist in a small herd in Poland’s Bialowieski National Park.
18. Narluga: Although this animal is extremely rare, there has been an increase in sightings in the North Atlantic Ocean of this narwhal and beluga whale mix. The long nose of the narwhal is missing, and the head shape is more like a beluga whale.
19. Coywolf: Coyotes and wolves are very similar, and they’re able to produce offspring without complications. Coywolves boast many characteristics of both species, and, in terms of sheer size, they’re between a coyote and wolf.
Anne Marie Fraser / Flickr
20. Mulard: This mixture of a mallard duck and muscovy duck can’t create offspring. Farms commercially produce this domestic duck — a hybrid of different genera — for foie gras and lean meat.