HYBRID DEER AND ANTELOPE
There are a wide variety of Antelope hybrids recorded in zoos, this is generally due to a lack of more appropriate mates in the enclosure. It also shows how closely related some of the species are - in fact some are essentially variant populations of the same species and are prevented from hybridization in the wild by behavioural differences. A mating between a male Eland and a female Kudu produced a sterile male hybrid that resembled the Eland. Blue Wildebeest produce fertile hybrids with the smaller Black Wildebeest and this has led to an entire herd of 180 "genetically contaminated" Black Wildebeest being destroyed in a wildlife conservation park (rather unfortunate, as "species purity" is a human concept; nature will exploit the best genes available, even if it means crossing a species boundary). In the early 1900s there were reports that the London Zoological Society had successfully mated several species of antelopes, for instance, the water-bucks Kobus ellipsiprymnus and Kobus unctuosus, and the Selouss antelope Limnotragus seloussi with Limnotragus gratus.
The blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) is a South African antelope with a distinctive white face and forehead. The blesbok and the bontebok are variant subspecies of one another and interbreed freely, the offspring being known as the bontebles or baster blesbok [bastard blesbok]. The differences between the two subspecies arose due to their preferences for different habitats. Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus dorcas) x Blesbok (D. pygargus phillipsi) hybridise extensively in nature reserves and only culling of hybrids maintains the pure type of each subspecies. The more numerous Blesbok now threatens the purity of the Bontebok. Pure Bontebok have a white rump patch. A Blesbok has no rump patch. Hybrids tend to have a smaller rump patch than the Bontebok and can also be much larger. When both species were numerous, interbreeding was probably limited by their different rutting seasons.
The listed hybrids include: Bongo/Sitatunga; Lesser Kudu/Sitatunga; Eland/Greater Kudu;Cape Hartebeest/Blesbok; Bontebok/Blesbok; Common Waterbuck/Defassa Waterbuck; Defassa Waterbuck/Nile Lechwe; Defassa Waterbuck/Kob; Nile Lechwe/Kob; Kafue Lechwe/Ellipsen Waterbuck; Red-fronted Gazelle/Thomson's Gazelle; Beisa Oryx/Fringe-eared Oryx; Grant's Gazelle/Thomson's Gazelle; Thomson's Gazelle/Roosevelt's Gazelle; Slender-horned Gazelle/Persian Goitered Gazelle; Persian Gazelle/Blackbuck; Cuvier's Gazelle/Slender-horned Gazelle.
Deliberate hybridisation is known between greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and nyala (T. angasii), waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) and lechwe (K. leche) and southern-western sable (Hippotragus equinus equinus) and roan (H. e. koba).
ADDAXES AND ORYXES
Oryxes and Addaxes freely interbreed, forming fertile hybrids. Addax/Oryx hybrids closely resemble the Addax parent and are sometimes erroneously traded as Addax. When the hybrids are bred back to the parental species of Oryx, the second generation more closely resembles the Oryx. This readiness to interbreed has implications for conservation with some zoos discovering their Oryx stock to be mongrelised.
Male Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) × Scimitar-horned Orx (Oyrx dammah) produce hybrids that resemble the oryx in size and horns, but the coat colour and body shape resembles the Addax. The hybrids have sometimes been sold as pure Addax. These 2 species previously had a contact zone in the wild. Berlin Tierpark had a triple hybrid when a female (Addax x Scimitar-horned Oryx) was bred to a male Arabian Oryx.
Hybrids are reported between Beisa (Oryx beisa) x Gemsbok (O. gazelle), Scimitar-horned Oryx (O. dammah) x Gemsbok, Scimitar-horned Oryx x Arabian Oryx (O. leucoryx). A female Arabian oryx was mated to the larger Scimitar-horned Oryx at Bristol Zoo in 1932. The female hybrid had to be delivered by caesarean due to its large size. The hybrid was fertile and was mated back to her sire resulting in offspring.
A possible Gemsbok x Arabian Oryx hybrid named “Beatrix” was recorded in Bombay as intermediate between a gemsbok and an Arabian oryx. In size and shape it resembled the Arabian Oryx, had the straight horns of the Gemsbok and the plain colour of the Arabian Oryx, but had dark legs and white feet that were found in neither parent. A pair of these animals were shipped from Bombay to England, but the female died in transit. When the male died it was preserved at the British Museum Natural History Department.
Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra ) x Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas] hybrids have been produced in captivity. Two male hybrids and one female hybrid were produced at the Marseilles Zoo in 1862 and reached adulthood. They appear to have been intermediate in appearance. A Blackbuck x Goitered Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) was bred at the Dublin Zoo in 1899. A Blackbuck x Thomson’s Gazelle (Gazella thomsonii) has also been described.
Gunther’s Dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri) and Kirk’s Dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) appear to hybridise naturally and widely in the wild. The two species have different habitat preferences, but there are a number of contact zones where intermediate forms occur.
DUIKERPeters’ Duiker (Cephalophus callipygus) x Harvey’s Duiker (C. harveyi) hybridise freely in the wild. The hybrids are intermediate in form and were previously called C. ignifer). Harvey’s Duiker also hybridises with the Natal Duiker (C. natalensis). The Natal Duiker produced a hybrid with the Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia) (aka grey Duiker/Bush Duiker), but the hybrid died soon after birth. The Bay Duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis) and Red-flanked Duiker (Cephalophus rufilatus) have a contact zone; a hybrid between these species was born at Regent’s park Zoo, London in 1869. The Bay Duiker has also hybridised with the Zebra Duiker (C. zebra). Maxwell’s Duiker (C. maxwelli) x Blue Duiker (C. monticola) have a contact zone and hybrids have also been born in zoos in London (1862) and Paris (1961). The Black-fronted Duiker (C. nigrifrons) x Ruwenzori Duiker (C. rubidus) may produce hybrids in the wild. The Black-fronted Duiker x Common Duiker produced a hybrid at Pretoria Zoo (1963).
ELAND, SITATUNGA, BONGO, KUDU AND NYALA HYBRIDS
Eland (Taurotragus oryx) x Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) have produced hybrids of both sexes. The male hybrids are sterile but have a strong sex-drive. Eland x Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei) have produced two female hybrids in captivity. Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) x Sitatunga have produced F1 hybrids. A female hybrid was described as similar to a Bongo, having a heavily built body, large ears, a mane and vertical striping on the sides, but her hooves and tail resembled those of the Sitatunga and she had horizontal rows of white spots on her thighs and flanks. A female hybrid has been backcrossed to a Sitatunga. Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) x Greater Kudu have produced F1 hybrids.
Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) x Bushbuck (T. scriptus), and Lesser Kudu × Sitatunga have been bred. Harnessed Bushbuck/Kewel (T. scriptus scriptus and Cape Bushbuck/Imbabala (T. scriptus sylvaticus) interbreed at contact zones producing offspring with varying coat colours, degrees of striping and horn shapes. Sitatunga x Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) hybrids have occurred in captivity.
The following reports from newspapers refer to various antelopes which are now considered to be sub-species rather than distinct species.
T. s. spekii (Speke's Antelope) - now known as Nile sitatunga or East African sitatunga.
T. s. gratus (Pleasant Antelope, West Indian harnessed Antelope) nown known as Congo sitatunga or forest sitatunga.
T. s. selousi (Selous's Antelope) now known as Southern sitatunga or Zambezi sitatunga.
HYBRID HARNESSED ANTELOPE. London Evening Standard, 17th February 1896: Not the least interesting of the recent additions to the Zoological Gardens is the hybrid Harnessed Antelope born there last week. The sire is the West Indian Harnessed Antelope (Tragelaphus gratus). This animal, like its progeny, was bred in confinement, and was received by the Society in 1894 from the Zoological Gardens at Hamburg. At Amsterdam there is a small herd of these antelopes in the gardens of the Royal Zoological Society, and there is every probability that this antelope will become as thoroughly acclimatised in Europe as is the eland. The dam is Speke's Antelope (T. spekei [sitatunga or marshbuck]), of which there is no other living specimen in this country, or on the Continent. Since dam and sire belong to the same genus the experiment is not so interesting as were those made some years ago on wild cattle, and recorded in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1884. For the present mother and young are secluded ; but probably before the end of the week visitors will have the opportunity of seeing Speke's Antelope with her calf at foot. Sire and dam are marsh antelopes, and though they differ in colouration—the latter being also marked with white spots on the face, and body stripes of the same hue— they agree in the peculiar formation of the hoofs, which are specially adapted for walking over marshy or swampy ground. The main and lateral hoofs are very long, so as to spread out and give the animals a wide base of support. The ground colour of the calf is reddish, and it is spotted and stripped with white.
The People, 14th March 1897: The subject of our sketch is the hybrid antelope, between a male pleasant antelope and a female Speke’s antelope, which was born in the Zoological Gardens on Feb. 28. This is the second hybrid between the same animals, the former being born in the Gardens just a year ago. The young animal bears a greater resemblance to its male parent than to its mother, being of a reddish colour and striped and spotted with white.
Exmouth Journal, 11th March 1905: [The Selous's antelope presented to the zoo in 1890 was] the first of its species to reach Europe alive, was received at the Gardens on October 14. It did exceedingly well, and in 1896 threw a female hybrid to a West African harnessed antelope. In the following year a second female hybrid was born. The older hybrid was sent to the late Mr. Cecil Rhodes in 1899 in exchange for a male Selous's antelope, received on June 24 in that year.
ELAND X DOMESTIC COW
See: Hybrid Bovines
Many gazelle species are interfertile. The following hybrids have been reported: Arabian Gazelle (Gazella Arabica) x Mountain Gazelle (G. gazelle), Chinkara/Bennett’s Gazelle (G. bennettii) x Saudi gazelle (G. saudiya – extinct), Dorcas Gazelle (G. Dorcas) x Mountain Gazelle (female hybrids are fertile with Dorcas males, but not with Mountain Gazelle males), Dorcas Gazelle x Pelzeln’s Gazelle (G. pelzelni),
Mountain Gazelle x Goitered Gazelle (G. subgutturosa), Grant’s Gazelle x Thomson’s Gazelle (G. thomsonii), Slender-horned or Rhim Gazelle (G. leptoceros) x Goitered Gazelle, Arabian Sand Gazelle/Reem x Goitered Gazelle, Red-fronted Gazelle (G. rufifrons) x Thomson’s Gazelle (extensive hybridisation in the wild, also in captivity), Red-fronted Gazelle x Heuglin’s Gazelle (G. tilonura).
In zoos, Masai and Rothschild’s Giraffes hybridize and the hybrid "generic" population is outnumbering the pure-bred populations. This is a problem for conservationists trying to preserve pure species.
Lelwel Hartebeest (Alcelaphus lelwel) x Hartebeest (Alcelaphus swayneii) hybrids are known as Newman’s Hartebeest and was previously named Alcelaphus rothschildi. Coke’s Hartebeest (Alcelaphus cokii) x Lelwel Hartebeest hybridise to produce Kenyan Highland Hartebeest. These are now considered races of the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus) rather than distinct species (A. b. lelwel, A. b. swayneii etc.)
A possible Hartebeest x Topi/Sassaby (Damaliscus lunatus) hybrid was described in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1893 by Mr. F. C. Selous, CMZS who “exhibited the skull of an Antelope believed to be a hybrid between the Sassaby (Bubalis lunata) and the Hartebeest (B. caama), which he had transmitted to the British Museum in 1890, and read the following letter which he had addressed to Dr. Günther on the subject, dated Tati River Matabeleland, March 23rd, 1890:— ‘I am sending you the skull of a very curious animal which would puzzle you immensely if I did not tell you what it was. It is the skull of a male cross-bred animal between a Tsessebe Antelope (Bubalis lunata) and a Hartebeest (B. caama), the father probably being one of the former Antelopes and the mother one of the latter. This animal was shot a few miles from here, between the Tati and Shashi rivers, by my old friend Cornelius van Rooyen, the well-known Boer hunter. You will see that the skull of this animal closely resembles that of a Hartebeest, whilst the horns are neither like those of a Hartebeest nor those of a Tsessebe, but partake of the characters of both, standing, nearly straight up from the skull as in the Hartebeest, but yet being slightly lunate in form and ringed as in the Tsessebe. As regards the animal itself, van Rooyen tells me that the colour of its skin on the body, head, and legs was precisely the same as in an ordinary Tsessebe but that it had the comparatively large bushy tail of a Hartebeest. When it ran, it ran with its tail held out as Hartebeests do, and with the light springy gallop of those animals. There can I think be no doubt in the mind of any rational being that this curious animal is a cross between the Hartebeest and Tsessebe Antelopes.… P.S. You will notice that the prominent rings on the horns I am sending you agree with those which are present just at the backward turn of the horns of a Hartebeest.’”
Lelwel Hartebeest x Tora Hartebeest (Alcelaphus tora) hybridise at contact zones and some of the hybrids have been described in scientific literature as species or subspecies. Hartebeest x Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest (Sigmoceros lichtensteinii) hybridise at contact zones. Hartebeest x Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus) hybrids have been described.
Common Impala (Aepyceros melampus ) x Black-faced Impala (A. petersi) hybridise freely and with fertile offspring in captivity. In the wild they do not come into contact. About a quarter of the “Black Faced Impala” on farms are in mixed herds with Common Impala and are likely to be hybrids. The endangered Black-face Impala is genetically threatened by escaped Common Impalas on farms near the remaining range of the endangered Black Impala. The hybrids, which resemble Black-faced Impala, are allowed to be hunted on private land as trophy animals, but the pure Black-faced Impala is protected.
ROAN ANTELOPE, SABLE ANTELOPE
Roan Antelope (Hippotragus equinus) x Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger) – these occur in mixed herds and produce hybrids known as robles. The sire is generally the Roan Antelope. This endangers the Sable Antelope.
Defassa Waterbuck (Kobus defassa) x Waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus ) hybridise at contact zones in the wild. The hybrids are variable in appearance , some having white rump patterns and others lacking them. This suggests back-crossing is also occurring between the hybrids (probably fertile females) and one or other parent species. Hybrids of both sexes have also been produced in captivity. The species have now been relegated to sub-species of K. ellipsiprymnus.
WATERBUCK, KOB & LECHWE
Defassa Waterbuck × Kob (K. kob) and Defassa Waterbuck × Nile Lechwe (K. megaceros) are also reported. The Waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus) has also hybridised with the Lechwe in the wild producing impressive hybrids. 1n 1936 a female Lechwe at Khartoum Zoo was crossed to a male Defassa Waterbuck and produced a hybrid female offspring. The hybrid was mated to a Kob and produced a male offspring that resembled the Kob. This second generation hybrid male was crossed to a Defassa Waterbuck female resulting in a pregnancy. Unfortunately there is no information on whether the pregnancy resulted in offspring. (reported by Hindle, 1951 and Daniell, 1951)
Common waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus) x Sing-sing Antelope (Kobus ellipsiprymnus unctuosus) (These are sub-species rather than distinct species).
London Evening Standard, 30th October 1903
It is not often that one has to chronicle the birth of a hybrid antelope in the Gardens. Many visitors to the house have just noticed that there was tiny calf (born on Saturday) in the stall with the female waterbuck (Cobus ellipsiprymnus), and those interested the subject saw at once that there was strange want of resemblance to the dam. The sire is the Sing-sing antelope, West African species (C. unctuosus), distinguished by its generally rufous coat, the large white patch the lower part of the buttocks, and the small, ill-defined white area in the region of the eye. The coat of the dam is dark grey, with an oval ring of white on the buttocks, extending upwards above the tail, and downwards to the thighs; there is a whitish gorget on the throat, some white on the muzzle, and a streak of the same hue over the eye. In the calf the coat is so dark to appear quite black, but there is no white on the throat, nor any trace of recognition-mark on the buttocks. There is resemblance to the dam in the shape and markings of the head, especially the disposition of the white near the eye and on the ear. The Sing-sing has not bred in the Gardens with a mate of its own species; though the waterbuck has. In the “Proceedings” (1893) drawing by J. Smit of the dam with her calf, and in all probability the hybrid will also be figured. The only other hybrid antelopes recorded born in the Gardens are some bred between male pleasant antelope (Tragelephus gratus) and female Selous antelope (T. selousi), and one is still living in the collection. In this case the offspring resembled neither dam nor sire in colour, but wore the rufous dress of the female of the pleasant antelope, which, according to Milne-Edwards, is also that of the young males.
WEST AFRICAN BUSH-BUCK X EAST AFRICAN BUSH-BUCK
HYBRID ANTELOPE WITH SPOTS. Belfast Telegraph, 10th February 1937
A rare hybrid antelope has been born at the Zoo, the dam being a West African bush-buck, and the sire an East African bush-buck. This is the first time that the two species have interbred in the menagerie. The West African bush-buck, Nancy, has an auburn coat with white stripes, while Sam, the East African, is brown without markings. The baby is red. like his mother, but, instead of being striped, he is spotted with white. He is about 2 feet long and 18 inches in height. Within a few hours of birth he was running round the cage with his mother.
Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) and Blue Wildebeest (C. taurinus) hybridise naturally, producing F1 hybrids almost identical to the Black Wildebeest. Blue Wildebeest are larger than Black Wildebeest and the hybrids between the two species are fertile. This has led to an entire herd of 180 "genetically contaminated" Black Wildebeest being destroyed in a wildlife conservation park.DEER
EUROPEAN ELK/AMERICAN MOOSE X RED DEER
European Elk/North American moose (Alces alces) is anecdotally said to breed with Red Deer/Waipiti/American Elk (Cervus elaphus) and with Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus). These hybrids must be viewed sceptically as frustrated male European Elk/Moose will attempt to mate with various large quadrupeds including domestic cattle, and have been observed “mating” with bronze statues of moose.
In "Origin of Species" (1859) Charles Darwin wrote "Although I do not know of any thoroughly well-authenticated cases of perfectly fertile hybrid animals, I have some reason to believe that the hybrids from Cervulus vaginalis and Reevesii [two types of muntjac] [...] are perfectly fertile."
Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjac) x Reeves’ Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) hybrids resemble Reeves’ Muntjac in form and resemble the Indian Muntjac in colour. F1 males are sterile, but female hybrids are sometimes fertile. Indian Muntjac x Northern Red Muntjac (Muntiacus vaginalis) hybridise naturally in contact zones and the females are likely fertile. Introgressive hybridisation in likely so that each species has some genetic contact from the other.
RED DEER HYBRIDS
A number of deer hybrids are bred to improve meat yield in farmed deer. The American Elk can hybridize with the Red Deer (the European Elk is known as Moose in the USA). The hybrids are about 30% more efficient in producing antler by comparing velvet to body weight. In Canada, farming of European Red Deer and Red Deer hybrids is considered a threat to native Wapiti. Wapiti have been introduced into some European Red Deer herds to improve the Red Deer type, but not always with the intended improvement. In New Zealand, where deer have been introduced, there are hybrid zones between Red Deer and North American Wapiti populations and also between Red Deer and Sika Deer populations. Red Deer/Wapiti x Sika Deer hybrids are bred in many countries for meat.
In New Zealand Red Deer have been artificially hybridized with Pere David Deer in order to create a farmed deer which gives birth in spring. The initial hybrids were created by artificial insemination and back-crossed to Red Deer.
In Canada, farming of European Red Deer and Red Deer hybrids is considered a threat to native Wapiti. In Britain, the introduced Sika Deer is considered a threat to native Red Deer. Initial Sika Deer/Red Deer hybrids occur when young Sika stags expand their range into established red deer areas and have no Sika hinds to mate with. They mate instead with young Red hinds and produce fertile hybrids. These hybrids mate with either Sika or Red Deer, resulting in mongrelization. Many of the Sika Deer which escaped from British parks were probably already hybrids for this reason. In 2009 it was reported that pure-bred wild red deer (Cervus elaphus) in mainland Scotland may be lost due to breeding with Japanese sika deer (Cervus nippon) introduced in the 19th Century. In some areas, up to 40% of deer are mongrelised, permanently polluting the gene pool and changing the appearance and behaviour of the native deer over generations. The first generation hybrids are spotted, like sika deer. Previously, the overall impact on the native species was thought to be low. Introduction of mongrel deer or sika to islands where pure-bred red deer exist is prohibited.
RED DEER AND WAPITI HYBRIDS (The Field, 21st July 1900). SIR – Most stalkers have noticed, with regret, in Scotland, the continual decrease in body and horn of our red deer [. . .]. The only way to improve the deer is to introduce fresh blood. Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Fife, and others have introduced with some effect, red stags, both from England and from Continental forests.
I had heard that the Duke of Bedford and others, both here and abroad, had obtained hybrids between the wapiti and the red deer, but I also heard the opinion expressed that these hybrids were unfertile. Now, the wapiti is so nearly allied to the red deer that it seemed to me the want of success in breeding from these hybrids might be due to adverse circumstances, such as confinement in small paddocks, rather than to innate causes, and I took an opportunity which presented itself of making an experiment. I inclosed some grass lands, with small woods for shelter, a stream, and a muddy soiling place, altogether about twenty-two acres. I obtained from Mr Arthur Yates two red deer hinds, and one pure wapiti hind, which had been running with his wapiti stag. The deer-keeper at the Zoological Gardens and others told me that many red hinds, if mated with a wapiti stag, would die in calving, and that the proper cross was that of a red stag with wapiti hind. One of my first red hinds did die in calving, but I attributed this to the railway journey from Hampshire to Aberdeenshire, and I have lost no more in calving. This was in 1897. The other hind produced a male calf, of which more hereafter. The wapiti hind was barren that year. In the early summer of 1897 I procured from Mr Jamrach a wapiti stag, so as to have a change of strain available, and I got from Stoke Park, from Savernake, and other places, several more picked red hinds. Two of the Savernake red hinds were in calf to wild red stags when they came here. The wapiti stag grew a very irregular and extraordinary head, curiously palmated, of thirty-one points in 897, but in 1898 he grew a very beautiful and symmetrical head of sixteen points, of almost record dimensions in regard to extreme outside width. Early in 1899 this stag died. I was not very sorry, as he was horribly savage.
In 1898 the wapiti hind produced to him a pure wapiti hind calf. and the red hinds produced five hybrid male calves and some hybrid hind calves. One of these hybrid stags has been sent to Glenmuick, where Sir Allan Mackenzie has taken up some red hinds from that forest to continue the experiment. Four are still here, and with them are two red stags dropped by the Savernake hinds the same year. In 1899 a number of hybrids, both stags and hinds, were dropped here, but I do not yet know the relative numbers of the sexes. The same thing has happened this year.
I will now give the results of these first crosses in size and bone, and I follow the names (for different ages)—i.e., the first year a stag is a calf ; the second, a knobber or bracket ; the third, a spire, pricket, or spayad; the fourth year, a saggard or staggart— as given in Dr Collyns's “Chase of the Wild Red Deer. “That author's s account of a west country red stag's head at different ages is well worth studying. The hybrid male calf dropped in 1897 had horns in 1898 21-amnd-a-half inches by 22-and-a-half inches in length, with two points on each side. In 1899 he had twelve points, the horns were 32-and-a-half inches and 32-and-a-half inches, circumference between bay and tray point 4-and-a-half inches, and the weight of the pair 4lb 14oz. When he was two years and three months he was estimated by competent judges who have spent their lives among deer to weigh about 30 stone. This year (1900) he is growing another royal head, and is in grand condition. [There followed a table of dimensions of the 2 year old males’ antlers showing the hybrids to be larger and have larger antlers than the pure-bred red deer of the same age]
It is very instructive to see these six stags advance towards a stranger in line, the pure red stags look so diminutive beside their half-brothers, and in spread of horns there is as much difference as in length and weight. Anyone interested in the subject is welcome to see the deer if he will write to my heed-keeper at Monymusk. The value of the wapiti cross for improvement of size of body and of horn has thus been demonstrated once more, and that the hybrid stags are fertile both with red hinds and with wapiti hinds is proved by the nine or ten calves dropped this summer and now running in the park. I understand that, apart from size, the only structural differences between wapiti and red deer consist of a certain gland near the hock and modifications in two of the teeth. [There is a very noticeable difference in the character of the antlers when the animals are fully adult. The wapiti then has a remarkably long fourth tine, and in addition a tine pointing backwards, which is never seen in the Scotch red deer.—ED.] I have also proved that, if given sufficient space to roam, the red hind can easily give birth to a calf either by a wapiti or by a wapiti red deer hybrid. L am not sure whether any of my young hybrid hinds, now in their third year, have calved. I understand few red hinds calve till they are in their fourth year, that is "three years off," but I am told some certainly calve in their third year. My wapiti hind of this age has done so. I have now too many deer for the space available, and I want to get rid of all, or nearly all, of them, and as they are all acclimatised or have been born here they should do well in any forest. They have been merely grass-fed, and only a few of them have had corn given to them, simply to keep them amenable to a call, and, of course, in winter they have had some rough hay. In shape and type of horn my hybrids seem to take more after the red stag than the wapiti. - ARTHUR H. GRANT, Monymusk, July 16.
HYBRID RED DEER. (The Field, 23rd July 1898) - In July, 1896, a tame red deer hind dropped a hind calf to a Japanese deer stag. Last October she [the hybrid] was with the red deer stag during the rutting season. This spring she dropped a fine big-calf to him. I think this is worth recording, first, as showing that a hind will breed even before she is two years old, and, secondly, as proving—though I rather think this has been proved already—that the hybrid red and Japanese deer are fertile.—DOUGLA BROOKE (Colebrooke, Brookeboro', co. Fermanagh, July 19).
SIKA / RED DEER HYBRIDS IN IRELAND. Falkirk Herald, 7th May 1902: Red deer, which have pointed antlers, and can kill a dog, and injure and probably kill a man, seldom seem to hurt one another with their horns, though the struggle looks rather terrific. Among the few instances recorded of the death of a stag in such an encounter was that of red deer at Powerscourt. It was killed a hybrid stag, a cross between the red species and the Japanese deer introduced into the wild park by the Dargle. In this case the horns of the hybrid were of quite a different kind from those carried by the red stag, which enabled it to get inside the other's guard and pierce its skull.
A HYBRID DEER AT POWERSCOURT. (The Field, 13th December 1902) SIR - ln the beautiful deer park belonging to Viscount Powerscourt at Enniskerry, co. Wicklow, well known on account of the great waterfall there, I saw the other day a hybrid between a Japanese stag and a red deer hind. It is a female, and is a tame and sprightly animal, coming to be fed on Indian corn with others of the herd, which consists of red deer, Japanese, and fallow deer — all in considerable numbers. Its mixed parentage is quite apparent, the leaning, perhaps, being towards the Japanese sire. This cross between the Japanese deer (Cervus sika) and the ordinary red deer (Cervus elaphas), so far as I can learn, has only occurred in the deer park at Powersoourt. The Japanese deer were originally introduced and acclimatised by Lord Powerscourt In the year 1880 (see “Proceedings Zoological Society,” April 1, 1884). He purchased from Jamrach one male and three females, said to have been the very first examples of this species imported to Great Britain from Japan. These increased rapidly at Powerscourt, and at one time there were upwards of 100 of them in the deer park there.
Hybridisation has taken place very frequently at Powerscourt between the Japanese deer and the red deer, the sire being in every case the Japanese animal. There is no doubt whatever of this union taking place, as the hybrid offspring show pretty plainly the characteristics of both species. For example, the antlers of the cross-bred stags take partly after them of red deer, having double brow tines, and assuming somewhat the red deer type generally, but at the same time retaining to some extent the shape or form of those of the sire. There are several antlers of the hybrid preserved at Powerscourt House. The hybrid animals are also somewhat smaller than the red deer, and are spotted like the Japanese. The tail resembles that of the pure Japanese species, and also the rounded ears, but their size and general appearance is that of a small red deer.
As Lord Powerscourt thought the hybrids might be fertile, he generally shoots the males, as the cross does not improve the red deer, making them smaller, and spoils the Japanese deer also. One marked characteristic of these hybrids is their pugnacity. On one occasion Lord Powerscourt found a large red stag lying dead in the park, and, on further investigation, found that the tine of his adversary had pierced the skull underneath one eye, and had come out under the other eye, of course penetrating the brain. The ground around the dead beast was torn up by their hoofs, showing clearly how fierce and protracted the fight had been. The culprit, a hybrid Japanese, was afterwards seen with his horn, which had a long, straight tine at the top, about 9in. in length, covered with blood, and upon this evidence the culprit was duly executed. In the rutting season, i.e., in October, the Japanese stag struts about with the throat inflated just like a small red deer, and his cry is very curious, generally being a whistle ending in a scream, and at that time or season he has a very alert and stately appearance. The stags get very fat, and are good venison. – F.W.B.
SIKA / RED DEER HYBRIDS IN IRELAND. New Ross Standard, 23rd 23 April 1982: The sika deer is a small Japanese deer first introduced into Ireland about 1860 by Viscount Powerscourt to his estate in Enniskerry. Co. Wicklow. The sikas escaped from several estates and interbred with escaped imported Scottish red deer to produce a hybrid. These hybrids are widespread in Northern Ireland and on the Leinster Massif and they are the deer that we have in Co. Wexford. The hybrid sika/red frequent the dense unthinned forestry plantations in the extreme north of the counts, particularly between Camolin and Carnew and also on Croghan Mountain. They stand about one metre to the withers, or shoulder, and have a short white tail on a white rump.
In the USA, sika interbreed with the wapiti (American Elk / Red Deer). The hybrid of the sika doe and the American waipiti/elk is called a "silk" deer.
Sika deer are less tolerant than red deer of other deer species and the hybrids may inherit this behaviour, driving out roe or fallow deer from areas they previously shared with native red deer.
Red Deer/Wapiti x Sambar (Cervus unicolor) have hybridised in breeding experiments. 400 Red Deer Hinds artificially inseminated with Sambar semen resulted in 31 pregnancies, but only 4 went to full term. Only one live offspring was produced, a female which was successfully reared. The converse mating used 10 Sambar hinds inseminated with Red Deer semen resulting in 5 pregnancies, none of which went to full term, but this sample size was too small to give a definitive answer on the possibility of hybrids. Hybrids between Red Deer and Sambar appear to occur naturally, probably from Red Deer stag x Sambar hinds.
Red Deer/Wapiti x Pere David’s Deer (Elaphurus davidianus) are reportedly highly fertile in the wild with 3 male hybrids siring 143 backcross offspring with Red Deer hinds. Hybridisation attempts using artificial insemination had a low conception rate, high embryo mortality rate and very few full-term pregnancies, although stress can cause deer to abort. Pere David’s Deer has a 6 weeks longer gestation period. A female hybrid was born at the Jardin d'Accimatation, Paris in 1900. on 31 August 1900 and bought by the Duke of Bedford, Woburn, England 6 years later. She only ever bred with a Red Deer stag, producing sevewral calves that showed some characteristics of the pere David’s grandsire.
ANTLERS AND THE CLASSIFICATION OF DEER (The Field, 23rd July 1910). Sir - In the discussion carried on In your columns between Mr Pocock and Mr Allan Gordon Cameron, in regard to the above, an ounce of fact is worth several pounds of theory, and I would like to draw attention to the following: In December, 1906, the Duke of Bedford deposited at the Regent's Park Gardens a remarkable female hybrid between the milu or Pere David’s deer (Elaphurus) and a red-deer hind. This hybrid stayed at Regent's Park until January, 1907, when she was moved to Woburn, where she is living at the present time. She was bred at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris, so there can be no doubt as to her origin. The Duke informs me that when he received the hybrid she was in calf by a red stag. The calf was born at Woburn but did not long survive, but since she (the hybrid) has been at Woburn she has had two calves by milu stags, which are thriving. Hybrids are well known between Japanese sika and red deer, and a sambur hind I gave some years ago to the late Sir Douglas Brooke had a calf by a red stag [. . .] HAMILTON. Coates, Fittleworth.
[The history of the milu and red deer hybrid up to the time she came into the Duke of Bedford's possession was given on the authority of Professor Trouessart in the field of Jan. 12, 1907, p. 42. - ED]
An unverified Red Deer/Wapiti x Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus – given as C. mexicanus) allegedly occurred at the Regent’s park Zoo (London Zoo) in the 1860s. Red Deer/Wapiti x Fallow Deer – a single female hybrid, with her own calf, was shot in 1926, but this could have been a colour morph of the Fallow Deer (these are often mistaken for hybrids).
ROE DEER HYBRIDS
Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) x Western Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) have produced hybrids at Dresden Zoo in 1862; the offspring died at 8 days old, but the cause of death was not noted. Hog Deer x Fallow Deer – a hybrid was raised at Bloemfontein Zoo, South Africa.
Western Roe Deeer (Capreolus capreolus) x Eastern Roe Deer (Capreolus pygargus) hybridise freely in contact zones producing sterile males and fertile females. In studied cases the sires were Eastern Roe Deer. There was high mortality of mothers and offspring because the foetuses grew much larger than pure Western Roe Deer foetuses. The reverse cross did not occur because the Western Roe Deer males did not mount the Eastgern Roe Deer females.
Eastern Roe Deer x Red Deer hybrids were produced by Carl Hagenbeck in his menagerie.
SPOTTED DEER HYBRIDS
Axis Deer x Sika Deer (Cervus Nippon) have bred in captivity in deer parks. A hybrid female mated with a male Swamp Deer (Cervus duvaucelii) producing a three-way hybrid female that resembled the Swamp Deer. Axis Deer x Swamp Deer (Cervus duvaucelii) are also reported to hybridise. A hybrid deer at the New Delhi Zoo resulted from a chital (Axis deer) and a Sika deer "getting mixed up" on the estate of the President of India. The chital/sika hybrid doe offspring was then mated to a swamp deer at the zoo because the swamp deer was "sex starved" and the zoo was unable to acquire a female swamp deer. The resulting intergeneric hybrid offspring was a doe and resembled a swamp deer (50% swamp deer, 25% chital, 25% sika).
Axis Deer (Axis axis) x Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) hybridise in both directions. A female hybrid bred in an Indian zoo was darker with fainter spots than the Axis Deer sire, and larger ears than an Axis fawn She ran with a low head carriage, like the Hog Deer mother, but being a hybrid she arched her back to do this. Another hybrid had the head, face and horns of the Hog Deer.
Axis Deer OR Sika Deer x European Red Deer/American Elk /Wapiti (Cervus elaphus) have produced hybrids, but most did not survive. Because the male was only described as a Spotted Deer, the exact species isn’t known. The parents had been raised together and subsequently mated, resulting in 4 pregnancies, but only one live-born offspring that reached adulthood. In the 4th pregnancy, the Red Deer female mated with both the Axis or Sika male and with a Red Deer male resulting in a double pregnancy (super-fetation). A dead hydrid was born at 8 months and a live Red Deer calf was born at 9 months.
Axis Deer x Javan Rusa/Sunda Sambar (Cervus timorensis) produced a hybrid in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris in 1840. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire 1840. Axis Deer x Sumatran Sambar (Cervus unicolor) are likely to hybridise in Sumatra where the Axis Deer is an introduced species.
Axis Deer x Fallow Deer (Dama dama) – attempts to produce hybrids by artificial insemination (in both directions) indicate that these deer do not form hybrids despite anecdotal reports of hybrids in the wild (probably colour morphs of the Fallow Deer).
Axis Deer x White-Tailed Deer/Virginia Fallow Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are observed to mate, but do not produce offspring.
Visayan Spotted Deer/Prince Alfred’s Deer (Cervus alfredi) x Philippine Brown Deer (Cervus mariannus) hybrids have been bred at Regent’s Park Zoo (London Zoo) in the 1870s. A female hybrid was successfully back-crossed to the Philippine Brown Deer.
Sika Deer x Sambar (Cervus unicolor) hybrids have been bred at the Duke of Bedford’s estate at Woburn, UK.
The European Fallow Deer and Mesopotamian Fallow Deer (Dama mesopotamica, Persian Deer) hybridise where they come into contact naturally and also in captivity for meat production. Natural hybridisation poses a threat top the Mesopotamian species. It is implied that European Fallow Deer × White-Tailed Deer have hybridised in South Carolina, but this is based on the antler form. Hybrids have not been produced in captivity. The variant antlers could be caused by mutation.
George Washington apparently wanted to breed Fallow Deer x Mule Deer hybrids.
CARIBOU X REINDEER
According to “AMERICA MAKES SOME NEW ANIMALS” by Frank Thone (Miami Daily News Record, 7th March, 1929):- Northward still, on the Alaskan tundras where no imaginable hybrid of the domestic cattle could gain a living, a considerable livestock industry based on the reindeer has grown up, and large groups of Eskimo have abandoned their old nomadic hunting life to become well-to-do herdsmen. The reindeer are descendants of animals imported from Siberia by the Department of Agriculture about a generation ago. There is in Alaska and northern Canada a native cousin of the reindeer, the caribou. This animal is the staff of life of hunting tribes of Eskimo, but it has never been domesticated. It is a larger animal than the European reindeer and has more meat on it, so that experiments are being made the crossing of the two stocks. The hybrids are undoubtedly better meat animals, and can probably scrape a living out of the snow more effectively than their European cousins. If they can be kept in herds (the wild caribou tends to scatter rather than to bunch), and if they prove tractable as draft animals, the cross will be rated a big success.
Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus columbianus) x Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) hybridise extensively in contact zones and form introgressive hybrids so that each species has some genetic content from the other in addition to the early generation hybrids where the parent species come into contact. Hybridisation is extensive enough that these deer may be races of a single species differentiated by habitat preference and some aspects of appearance.
In captivity, Mule Deer have been mated to White-tail Deer (in both directions), but less than 50% of the hybrid fawns survived the first few months. Hybrids have been reported in the wild but are disadvantaged because they don't properly inherit survival strategies. Mule Deer bound (all 4 hooves hit the ground at once, called "stotting") to escape predators. Stotting is so specialized that only 100% genetically pure Mule Deer seem able to do it. In captive hybrids, a one-eight White-tail/seven-eighths Mule Deer hybrid has an erratic escape behaviour and would be unlikely to survive to breed. Hybrids do survive on game ranches where both species are kept and predators are controlled by man.
MISCELLANEOUS DEER HYBRIDS
Javan Rusa/Sunda Sambar (Cervus timorensis) x Sumatran Sambar (Cervus unicolor) produce vigourous, fasxt-growing hybrids. Male hybrids can produce offspring with female Javan Rusa. Female hybrids can produce offspring with male Sumatran Sambar. Hybrids have commercial value, but hybridisation in the wild, where the Javan Rusa is an introduced species, poses a genetic threat to the Sumatran Sambar.
An hybrid between the Sumatran Sambar × White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was alleged in the late 1800s, but has not been verified or repeated.
A hybrid between the Red Brocket (Mazama Americana – reported as Pitahirsch Cervus rufus or M. rufa) x Pudu (Pudu puda – reported as Cervus pudu) was reported in the 1860s.
UNLIKELY OR IMPOSSIBLE DEER HYBRIDS
(The Field, 11th February 1899) I would draw Mr. Tegetmeier’s attention to the fact that Hodgson records that a male Tahr at Nepal paired with a female spotted deer (Axis maculatus), which produced a hybrid of mixed appearance, more like the mother than the father, which lived and grew up to be a fine healthy animal. – SMOOTH-BORE [The Tahr is an Indian wild goat – a hybrid seems unlikely!]
Another unlikely hybrid is the deer x sheep although the deer species supposedly involved is unclear due to an error by the writer:
FERTILITY OF HYBRIDS (The Field, 28th 28 July 1860) For the benefit of your reader, I transcribe the following, taken from the works of the celebrated American naturalist Morton; he quotes from the Memoirs of the Royal Swedish Academy of Stockholm the account of some experiments of Carl N. Hellenius. “After going through his experiments in detail, Hellenius concludes with the following summary: 'I haves thus from this pair (female deer, Cervus capreolus, and the male sheep, Ovis aries) obtained seven offsprings, viz., four from the ram and deer—two of each sex, two from the deer's first male offspring viz., by crossing this latter animal with the Finland ewe , and by crossing this same male with the female offspring of the deer and ram. One, a ewe, by pairing the Finland ewe with one of her own progeny from the first hybrid male derived from the deer and ram.’ Hellenius further describes the form, fleece, and mixed habits of these animals, which were alive, healthy, and vigorous when the account was published (say some ten or twelve years ago). It is clear from this unmistakeable testimony of Hellenius that a mixed race of deer and sheep might be readily produced and perpetuated by bringing together many pairs. M. Chevreul also asserted in the “Journal des Savans,” 1846, that the inhabitants of Chili for a long time have been in the habit of crossing goats and sheep, expressly with the view of improving their fleece in a hybrid progeny, whose prolificacy knows no limits.” Is It prejudice, sir, or an indolent indifference to science, or what, that is antagonistic to the carrying out of experiments such as the above in this country, in the middle of this nineteenth century? – VINDEX.
[Cervus elephas is the (red) deer; capreolus is the roebuck. Our correspondent will see that much of the interest of the communication is lost by the accidental combination of names that are not synonymous.—ED.]
Even more unlikely is the horse x moose hybrid:
In July 2006, a rancher in French-speaking Quebec province, the Gaspe Peninsula, claimed a funny-looking foal was the result of a mating between a wild moose and a mare. The male foal, called Bambi, has a relatively large, heavy-looking head with a drooping mouth and has long, relatively thick legs. The owner, Francois Larocque, claimed it had the head of a moose on a horse's body. Bambi allegedly likes to spend time in a nearby forest where moose live. It also sleeps lying down rather than standing up and this was cited as not being horse-like even though foals do sleep lying down while adult horses sleep standing. This suggests an unfamiliary with horses and foals!
Although there have been reports of moose mating with horses, according to biologist Gilles Landry of Quebec's parks and wildlife department, no offspring have ever resulted. Moose and horses are not just different species, they belong to two completely different orders: moose are Cetartiodactyla while horses are Perissodactyla. This is simply a foal with a deformities and genetic tests are likely to confirm this identity. The unusual physical proportions could be due to recessive genes e.g. a heavy horse somewhere in its ancestry. Larocque insisted his only 2 stallions were gelded a month before the foal was conceived. There are apparently no other stallions in the region, though there are moose in the nearby wildlife reserve. It is very evidently not an adopted moose calf as it lacks the cloven hooves of the moose.
Lowe, V.P.W. and A.S. Gardiner, 1975. Hybridization between red deer (Cervus elaphus) and sika deer(Cervus Nippon) with particular reference to stocks in N.W. England. Zool. Lond., 177: 553-566.
Bartos, L., J. Hyanek and J. Zirovnicky, 1981. Hybridization between red and sika deer: I. Craniological analysis. Zool. Anz. Jena., 207: 260.
Bartos, L. and J. Zirovnicky, 1981. Hybridization between red and sika deer II. Phenotype analysis.Zool. Anz. Jena., 207: 27
Bartos, L. and J. Zirovnicky, 1982. Hybridization between red and sika deer III. Interspecific behaviour. Zool. Anz. Jena., 208: 30.
Pearse, A.J., 1992. Farming Wapiti and Wapiti Hybrids in New Zealand. In: Brown, R.D., (Ed.). The Biology of Deer. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, pp: 173-179
Tate, M.L., R.M. Anderson, K.M. McEwan, G.J. Goosen and A.J. Pearse, 1998. Genetic analysis of farmed deer hybrids. Acta Vet. Hung., 46: 329-340.9
Fennessy, P.F. and C.G. Mackintosh, 1992. Hybridization of red deer and pere David's deer. Proc.Deer Branch Course New Zealand Vet. Assoc., 9: 181-186.
Mungall, E.C. and W.J. Sheffield, 1994. Appendix C. Hoofed Hybrids. In: Mungall, E.C. and W.J. Sheffield,(Eds.). Exotics on the Range: The Texas Example.Texas A and M University Press, College Station, TX, pp: 209
Asher, G.W., D.S. Gallagher, M.L. Tate and C. Tedford. 1999. Hybridization between sika deer (Cervus nippon) and axis deer (Axis axis). J. Heredity, 90: 236-240.
Willard, S.T., S. Chapman, G. Foxworth, M. Drew, D.M. Hughes, D.A. Neuendorff and R.D. Randel,1998a. Hybridization between wapiti (Cervus elaphus manitobensis) and sika deer (Cervus nippon): A comparison of two artificial insemination techniques. J. Zool. Wildlife Med., 29: 295-299.
Willard, S.T., D.A. Neuendorff, A.W. Lewis and R.D. Randel, 2005. An Attempt at Hybridization of Farmed Axis (Axis Axis) and Fallow Deer (Dama Dama) by Intrauterine Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination. Department Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 4 (8): 726-729.
Textual content is licensed under the GFDL.
BACK TO HYBRID & MUTANT BIG CATS INDEX