There are lots of (adorable) hybrid creatures in both Avatar cartoons; Legend of Aang and Legend of Korra.
What inspired the creators of the show to include these hybrid creatures, as opposed to regular (i.e. boring) creatures?
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Besides the obvious reasons related in TV Tropes, Mix and Match Critters, the creators wanted to ensure there was a way to show without constantly saying "you're not in Kansas, anymore Dorothy." With our adventurers constantly on the move, nothing reinforced the sense of strangeness like noticing a duck with a turtle shell. Or a dog-bear. Or a badger-mole. You get the idea.
Many of the episodes revolve around the existence of the strange creatures such as the episode "The Great Divide" which featured the Canyon Crawler, a curious mixture of crocodile and spider. They were challenging to defeat and nearly whole episode revolves around learning what they were capable of doing. Not something you can do with conventional animals found on National Geographic.
Canyon Crawler looking for a meal, in "The Great Divide."
Well I'm guessing, for example, Appa was inspired from the Air Nomads seeing that he has a tatto just like Aang. Momo the same reason. I think Naga was suppose to be inspired from the waterbenders because it's like a polar bear dog. So basically it's a mixture of things.