10 Hybrid Animals

Hybridity as racial mixing

Hybridity originates from the Latin hybrida, a term used to classify the offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar. A hybrid is something that is mixed, and hybridity is simply mixture. As an explicative term, hybridity became a useful tool in forming a fearful discourse of racial mixing that arose toward the end of the 18th Century. Scientific models of anatomy and craniometry were used to argue that Africans, Asians, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders were racially inferior to Europeans. The fear of miscegenation that followed responds to the concern that the offspring of racial interbreeding would result in the dilution of the European race. Hybrids were seen as an aberration, worse than the inferior races, a weak and diseased mutation. Hybridity as a concern for racial purity responds clearly to the zeitgeist of colonialism where, despite the backdrop of the humanitarian age of enlightenment, social hierarchy was beyond contention as was the position of Europeans at its summit. The social transformations that followed the ending of colonial mandates, rising immigration, and economic liberalisation profoundly altered the use and understanding of the term hybridity.

In the animal kimgdon, zoos and menageries once bred exotic-looking hybrid big cats to attract the public just as hybrid small cats (Bengal, Chausie etc) are now bred as pets. The bigger and more ferocious looking, the better the public liked it. Due to conservation efforts, deliberate hybridization is prohibited in most zoos. It still happens in private collections and there are plenty of individuals willing to experiment with breeding different cat species together.

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