Meet Butterfly, A Rare Sheep-Goat Hybrid

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Petting zoos typically have common farm animals like chickens, piglets, sheep, cows, and goats. A Petting Zoo in Scottsdale, Arizona now has something more exotic to offer patrons.  The staff recently welcomed Butterfly: a healthy baby geep. What exactly is a geep, you ask? It’s hybrid animal that is half goat, half sheep. Geep

Butterfly was born on July 27. Her mother is fortuitously named Momma, and is a sheep. Her father, Michael, is a pygmy goat. 

Goats have 60 chromosomes, while sheep have 54. This genetic difference does pose some considerable difficulties, and is likely why these hybrids rarely occur. Geep typically don’t survive throughout embryonic development, but those who are born healthy strike a balance and have 57 chromosomes.

Butterfly’s features are a blend from her parents. While her hooves and face are similar to her goat father, her body is covered in a thick woolen coat, just like her mom. 

However, some have doubted whether Butterfly is truly a geep, or an ordinary lamb with parents from different sheep species. A simple genetic analysis would verify Butterfly’s lineage, but there is no word on when or if My Petting Zoo will be going that route or not. 

My Petting Zoo is currently closed due to Arizona’s hellacious summer heat, but will be reopening and available for events beginning in October. 

Until then, check out these adorable pictures of Butterfly and keep track of her growth via Facebook or Twitter

[All images via My Petting Zoo]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/meet-butterfly-rare-sheep-goat-hybrid

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