Ligers, zorses, labradoodles, and cockerpeis are just some of the hybrid animals created in captivity by humans. The first two — the progeny of a lion and a tiger and the offspring of a zebra and a horse — are examples of hybrids created in zoos and displayed as visitor attractions, while the latter two — crosses between Labradors and Poodles and Cocker spaniels and Sharpeis — are just two out of a multitude of dog mixes engineered by overzealous dog breeders eager to make a buck by creating the next “must-have” pooch. Sadly, these bizarre animal crosses and designer pets often suffer from severe health issues.
But, as it turns out, hybridization does not only occur in captivity. Human incidence can also indirectly produce hybrid animals. In 2006, a white bear with brown flecks believed to be a mix between a polar bear and a grizzly was sighted in the Arctic. Three years later, an animal believed to be the result of a right whale mating with a bowhead was photographed in the Bering Sea. While these hybrids may look cute and generate witty portmanteau names — the polar bear-grizzly combo has been dubbed a “pizzly” — interbreeding can spell disaster for species and the ecosystems they are part of.