While scientists face political and ethic issues in getting hybrid embryos, farm animals ignore all the fuss and go on their own. Such an example is Lisa, the geep, a crossbreed between
a goat and a sheep.
The lamb/kid was born following an unsuspected sexual encounter on the farm of Klaus Exsternbrink, in Schwerte, in Ruhr Valley (northern Germany) between a young billy goat and an ewe, ignoring some couple of millions years of separated evolution between goats and sheep. Lisa was born one month ago and she is a mix: it resembles a lamb in shape and size, but has the color pattern and the agility of a goat. Her mother seems not to be affected by the fact that her offspring is different from the other lambs.
Professor Karl-Heinz Waldmann from the animal medical school in Hanover will carry on DNA analysis of Lisa to assess her hybrid status.
"These whims of nature are extremely rare. But goats are known for their strong sex drive. So far, it's unclear whether the geep will produce the milk of a goat or a sheep - but the farmer thinks it will be drinkable. We will find out what the milk and cheese tastes like in the autumn," he said.
We are more accustomed perhaps with the mule, a hybrid between a mare and a donkey male. But occasional encounters between other farm animals too produce curious hybrids, like zorse, the hybrid between a zebra male and a mare. Such a hybrid was born last year in Germany, too, in a safari home park. Horses and zebras are often crossbred in Africa and the hybrids are employed as trekking animals on Mount Kenya.
There's more: even hybrids between camels and llamas, called camas, have been obtained. They are born via artificial insemination due to the huge size differences of the animals which impedes natural mating. Camas usually lack the hump, have the power, short ears and long tails of a camel but the cloven hooves and wool of a llama.