Those of you who saw the wonderful quirky movie "Napoleon Dynamite" might recall his drawing of a "Lyger" which he said was his favorite animal, a cross between a lion and tiger. Is there really such thing? You betcha! Some people have too much time on their hands, or the zoos can't keep their animals apart. I find it hard to believe such a cross would occur in nature! The resulting animal from a hybrid like this is sterile, so this is NOT an evolutionary step toward creating new animals. Nonetheless, animals who are close in genetics can cross and the latest fad is called a "Zedonk."

A Zedonk is for real, and it is a cross between a zebra father and a donkey mother. They have clubs they have websites. A zedonk, an unusual cross between a donkey and a zebra, is attracting attention at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in north Georgia after being born there about a week ago. The animal, (see the inset photo) has black stripes prominently displayed on her legs and face. According to its keeper, the zedonk has the instincts of a zebra, staying on the look out for predators, rather than the mildness of a domestic donkey.

There are a number of hybrids that come from breeding with zebras generically known as zebroids. Although Sheena of the jungle was filmed riding on a wild zebra, in real life purebred zebras are mean! They don't domesticate easily, which is why you don't see Africans routinely using zebras as pack or draft animals. A zebrinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female zebra; a zebrula is the offspring of a male zebra and a female horse

Some of you may notice the echo of the word "hinny" in zebrinny. A hinny is the hybrid offspring of a stallion horse and a donkey mare. They are not as common as their cousin the mule. A hinny is smaller, taking after the mother and not as useful as a surefooted mule. Both animals are sterile. Why do people make mules? Because unlike any of the other strange animals we have been talking about, mules are a combination of the best aspects of both animals. From their father the donkey they get a sure gait, hard hooves and their distinctive long ears. For their mother the mare, they become close to the size of horses. One can break a mule for dressage, for trail riding, or for pulling.

What other animals are close enough to mate? Some people in California like to mix dogs with wolves. They unfortunately think they are going to get a really cool animal, instead these poor innocent hybrids usually end up at the pound. My avatar, the dog you see by my name was one such mix. I couldn't understand why she was so snappish and unpredictable. I rescued her from certain death at an overcrowded shelter shortly before Christmas because she took to me. I never could trust her around children. She would silently bare her teeth.

My vet told me from viewing the tail, that Mango mutt was almost certainly a wolf mix. A purebred wolf knows it's a wolf, she explained. While they may be larger and more aloof than a dog, they make good pets for the right owner. A mix though, is unpredictable, which is why they end up at the pound, and in the state of California, if the shelter knows it's a wolf mix they have to destroy it. I thought the dog was difficult, yet I couldn't bring myself to be responsible for her death, so I worked with her. I bought pet hormone I plugged into the wall like air freshener to calm her. I walked her three times a day. I bought a halti collar for her nose. All of it helped a little, and all of it was annoying whenever I thought of the thoughtless people who had bred the poor animal.

A wolf and a dog are close enough genetically to have pups naturally and the offspring are not sterile. The same is true of a wolf and a coyote. But I wouldn't recommend any of these crazy animals! I don't even know if the zedonk is happy. And one only wonders what mama donkey is thinking of her striped legged colt!

Some people take two purebreed dogs and mix them to give them a name such as a "labradoodle" the mix between a poodle and Labrador. I will admit the resulting pup is cute. The problem with these so called designer mixes, is that people charge lots of money for these special mutts, and they are still just mutts. You can't breed two labradoodles and expect to get the same mix. There is no register for labradoodles, and you won't get papers. For what it's worth you can go to the pound and find any number of dogs who would be happy to be your friend.

Or, if you really want a purebreed, get a real poodle. They make fine companions. They live a long time and do not shed. Labradors are also nice dogs. They are good with children and like to swim. If your lab gets out and impregnates the local poodle, the pups will be cute, and that's no reason to charge purebreed prices for them! Actually though, any kind of purebreed when over bred starts to have health problems as the breeding pool gets too small. German Shepherds have hip dysplasia. And bulldogs and pugs often need surgery to clear their breathing passages. Mutts the world over are a healthy set and left to their own devices always seem to breed down to the same dun colored doggy looking dog like a dingo. Something similar in looks can be found in the slums of India, and in Africa and wandering the American urban neighborhood looking for scraps. Feral dogs, or domestic dogs gone wild can be gentled back to a domestic state with patience and love and kindness!