8 Hybrid Animals With Awesome Portmanteau Names

Lucas Adams 
Lucas Adams 

The most famous hybrid animal is the liger—but there are a few crossed creatures you probably didn't know about.

1. WHOLPHINS

Although there are frequent unconfirmed reports of them in the wild, only one pure wholphin is currently confirmed to exist. Her name is Kekaimalu—which means "from the peaceful ocean"—and she's a resident of Sea Life Park, Hawaii. Her parents were quite the odd couple: When staffers placed a 2000-pound false killer whale and a 400-pound Atlantic bottlenose dolphin in the same tank, nobody expected them to mate. Kekaimalu's surprise birth on May 15, 1985 made international headlines.

Another wholphin had previously been bred at Sea World, Tokyo in 1981, but that animal lived just 200 days. Kekaimalu, however, is still going strong. At almost 11 feet in length, she’s more lightly colored than a false killer whale, but darker than a bottlenose. Though her first calf died young, a second calf lived for nine years, and in 2004, Kekaimalu had a healthy daughter by a male dolphin: Kawili ‘Kai, another star attraction at Sea Life Park. 

2. CAMAS

Lucas Adams

In 1999, Dr. Lulu Skidmore and her team at Dubai’s Camel Reproduction Center set out to create an animal that was part Old World camel and part New World llama. The goal was utilitarian: “The main aim was to see if we could get the best of both species,” she said. “We thought [that] the long coat of a llama and the strength of a camel would make for a very useful animal.”

It was soon discovered that their male llamas couldn’t impregnate female camels, and the reverse approach proved anatomically impossible. In the end, Skidmore and her team used artificial insemination to impregnate a female camel. The result was a male cama they dubbed Rama. Since Rama's birth, a few other camas been been born using the same strategy.

3. CATTALO

Lucas Adams

Over the past 200 years, various ranchers have crossed American bison and domestic cows. Among them was Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones, a Kansas resident who, in the late 19th century, saw that cattle were ill-equipped for the harsh winters of the Great Plains. Hybrids, he figured, would be more resilient.

Jones started cross-breeding the two species in 1906. He did so on a patch of land that lies near present-day Grand Canyon National Park—where so-called cattalo have become a menace. (Not to be confused with beefalo, another hybrid: Cattalo are hybrids that have a predominately bison appearance, while beefalo are those that are only three-eighths bison.) As park superintendent Dave Uberuaga told the Associated Press, “The massive animals have reduced vegetation in meadows to nubs, traveled into Mexican spotted owl habitat, knocked over walls at American Indian cliff dwellings below the North Rim, defecated in lakes, and left ruts in wetlands.” The local population grows by a whopping 50 percent every year.

4. LEOPONS 

Lucas Adams

In Africa, leopards and lions cross paths quite frequently, so a wild-born hybrid is possible—but so far, all documented leopons have been produced in captivity, and the last known leopon specimen died in 1985. The brown-spotted, reddish-yellow creatures were larger than your average leopard—in fact, they were almost as big as lionesses—and had tufted tails. Males, like their leonine ancestors, had beards and manes. Leopons are considered sterile—though, granted, nobody's had the opportunity to try and breed them since the mid-'80s.

5. COYWOLVES

Lucas Adams

If you live in eastern North America, you may have spotted one of these canines. Sometimes called woyotes, they’re a western coyote/eastern grey wolf mix. The hybrid's beginnings trace back to when European settlers first arrived on the continent. The settlers, who viewed the eastern grey wolves as a nuisance, hunted the animals to near-extinction. As the wolf population dwindled, coyotes began moving in from the west to exploit the vacancy. Eventually, they entered one of the wolves’ final strongholds: southern Ontario.

Around 50 to 70 years ago, that area became the coywolf’s probable birthplace. These new creatures have longer legs, bigger paws, stronger snouts, and bushier tails than normal coyotes do. Like wolves, they’re capable of hunting in packs. But while lupines aren’t cut out for cities or suburbs, coywolves have proven quite adaptable and embrace metropolitan lifestyles.

6. ZONKEYS

Lucas Adams

Donkey/zebra hybrids are nothing new; Charles Darwin even wrote about them in an 1859 edition of On the Origin of Species. As with mules, zonkeys are born sterile—at least for the most part. Darwin did report on a zonkey that had successfully mated with a mare, thus combining the genes of three equine species. However, nobody has since been able to breed one with anything else (including other zonkeys). Captive zonkeys can currently be found at zoos in Mexico and Italy.

7. YAKOW

Lucas Adams

Another bovine hybrid, yakows (a.k.a. dzo and dzomos) are a common sight in Nepal. Larger and stronger than both yaks and cows, the beasts of burden also release significantly more milk. At high altitudes, yakows are the ideal livestock: They combine a yak’s thin air tolerance with a cow’s relative agility. Farmers have learned that while males cannot successfully reproduce, females can.

8. GROLAR BEARS

Lucas Adams

Thanks to climate change, the native ranges of grizzly and polar bears are increasingly overlapping. The result? An influx of muscular, sand-colored grolar bears. According to Brendan Kelly, a University of Alaska marine biologist, free-roaming specimens are a fairly new phenomenon. “We’ve known for decades that, in captivity, grizzly bears and polar bears will hybridize,” he told PSMag. But there were no confirmed wild grolar sightings until a hunter gunned one down in 2006. Subsequent DNA testing revealed the abnormal heritage of his curious prize.

Grolars tend to have both a grizzly’s hump and a polar bear’s elongated neck. Zoo keepers have noted that captives usually behave more like the great white ursids. When presented with a new toy, they’ll stamp on it with both of their front paws—the very same technique that polar bears use to break open seal dens. And a 2013 study on bears living on Alaska's Admiralty, Baranof, and Chicagof Islands showed that all of the bears were natural hybrids.

All illustrations by Lucas Adams.

You’re Probably Not Cleaning Your Dog’s Leash—But Here’s Why You Should Be

Tim Graham, Getty Images
Tim Graham, Getty Images

There are several items you use every day that you probably aren't cleaning enough, like your phone, your water bottle, and your pajamas. If you're a dog owner, there may be one especially filthy object in your home that you don't clean at all: your pet's leash. According to Reader's Digest, leashes get dirty fast, and if you can't remember the last time you cleaned yours, it's definitely due to be sanitized.

Leashes are just as easily soiled as anything you touch on a regular basis. Constant use causes microbes and oils from your hands to build up on the handle. And chances are, the leash is also covered with your dog's own germs, fur, and saliva, as well as mud and dirt from the outside world. This adds up to create a cocktail of nastiness on the leash that's hanging beside your front door.

The quickest way to gauge if your leash needs to be cleaned is to look at it. Is it covered with hair and splattered with mud? If yes, it should definitely be taken care of before your dog's next walk. But even a relatively neat looking leash should be cleaned about once a month. For rope and nylon leashes, let it soak in hot soapy water for 10 minutes before rinsing it and hanging it to dry. Scrubbing with a soft nylon brush may be necessary for tougher messes like stains and caked-on grime. Some leashes can also be safely cleaned in the washing machine in a delicates bag. If your dog's leash gets dirty quickly, you may want to invest in a few extras so you aren't constantly washing the one you have.

If you're looking for cleaning projects, disinfecting the items around your home that you've been neglecting is an excellent time-killer. From pillows to shower heads, here's how often you should be washing common household items.

[h/t Reader's Digest]

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Site in Pennsylvania Amish Country Accommodates Horses and Buggies

William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images

One way coronavirus testing centers can encourage social distancing is by testing patients in their vehicles. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, that includes horses and buggies as well as cars. As CNN reports, a small clinic is accommodating the old-school transportation method in an effort to make tests more accessible to Amish and Mennonite communities.

Most residents of Belleville, Pennsylvania, are Amish or Mennonite—two groups that are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their cautious approach to technology can result in lower news consumption, which may leave people ill-informed about a crisis that's changing by the day.

Both communities are also tight-knit: a benefit in most times of hardship, but a recipe for tragedy during a pandemic. "When they have church, they have 300 people crowded together in a little farmhouse. From the point of view of an infection like this, this is a disaster," Dr. D. Holmes Morton, founder and medical director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, told CNN.

Many Amish and Mennonite meetings and church services have been suspended indefinitely, but social distancing is just one part of keeping the communities safe. Testing is also essential to containing the virus, and the Central Pennsylvania Clinic aims to make its tests available to as many people as possible. As one of the few coronavirus testing sites in the area, they're working to test asymptotic patients as well as those who are feeling sick. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of novel coronavirus carriers show no symptoms.

The clinic is not just accommodating Amish and Mennonite patients, but also how they see them. Residents are able to roll up in their horses and buggies and get tested without stepping into the clinic. At least 65 people have used the drive-through (or ride-through) clinic since it opened on April 1.

[h/t CNN]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER