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It's a 'Geep'! Rare Sheep-Goat Hybrid Found in Germany

A six-month-old hybrid of sheep and goat stands in a sheepfold in Deiderode, near Goettingen, Germany, on Aug. 27.
A six-month-old hybrid of sheep and goat stands in a sheepfold in Deiderode, near Goettingen, Germany, on Aug. 27. Swen Pförtner / dpa via AP

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A shepherd in northern Germany has found a rare crossbreed among his flock: a sheep-goat hybrid, or what researchers coined a “geep”. The animal, now six months old, is the product of a billy goat that tags along with Dirk Pieper’s herd every day and one of the stockman’s 250 Leine ewe breeds. “Despite seeing the billy goat go after the female sheep once in a while, I was in shock when I saw the geep for the first time,” Pieper told NBC News. “It must have happened on a full moon night,” Pieper added jokingly. The new family member was named “Dwarf” and has been visited by dozens of scientists already.

“It looks like a goat, but has the mentality of a sheep,” Pieper explained. “But when it bleats, it sounds like a goat again. It’s a clear mixture!”

Even though sheep and goats belong to the same caprine sub-family, experts say that the crossbreed is extremely rare because they have a different set of chromosomes. While goats have 60 chromosomes, sheep only have 54. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Goettingen, after taking several blood samples at the farm, have scientifically confirmed the existence of the cross and say that the animal is currently most likely one of its kind worldwide.

IN-DEPTH

- Andy Eckardt

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