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The Liger

Updated on January 20, 2015

What is a liger?

The liger is a hybrid between a male lion and a female tiger (tigress) that rarely if ever occurred in nature although there are rumors that it might have.

Nevertheless, the animals are being bred now in a controlled way by scientists (naturally and not by artificial insemination) and kept at animal sanctuaries/ wildlife reserves such as one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Experts want to see what occurs when these types of animals are developed. Among things they look at for the ligers are:

  • What weight, length and height can they reach?
  • Can they reproduce, themselves?
  • Do they have a long survival rate/ longevity?


liger | Source


It is said that while a tiger can reach 500-600 pounds and a lion can reach 500-600 pounds, interestingly enough, a liger (the cross between the two) can reach maximum weights of 1000-1200 pounds, at or above the size of its mother and father combined.

Regarding other size factors such as length and height, it's been stated that the liger will surpass the typical largest male Siberian tiger.

There have been many theories about why the animals reach such a large size including attributing it to imprinted genes.

Experts have tried to debunk what they consider to be a myth that the ligers have a hormonal inability to stop growing.

According to Wikipedia, rather, these experts believe that these animals do indeed stop growing in many parts of their body (such as shoulder span) by the age of six, just like a lion or tiger would.

According to a 2010 Nightline television report (the video is below), ligers typically consume about one hundred pounds of meat per day and ligers will be about a story high when they stand on their hind legs such as to lean on a ladder as shown.

Hercules, a male liger weighing 922 pounds has made the Guinness Book of world records for largest animal in the world



While these animals, the ligers, have been given a very good reputation by their handlers, they are predators nevertheless.

The ligers are produced and raised in the sanctuaries and have exposure to human beings as they are given their food by handlers instead of hunting for it in the wild. Many believe that this attribute for the ligers causes them to be more gentle but they are indeed predators and they are of a massive size.

Any miscalculation by those who work caring for them can be disastrous. As reported by, In March 2013, at a Tulsa, Oklahoma animal sanctuary, a 32 year old volunteer handler with a year of experience had been killed by a liger. The man went into the enclosure during the animal's feeding which was against policy. It seems that while a liger is feeding, it will be more likely to attack a human.


There is a lot of controversy surrounding the breeding of the liger. Do you think these animals should continue to be bred?

See results


Male ligers are sterile. Female ligers have been able to reproduce in vary rare cases.

Thus, a liger can not mate and reproduce with another liger.

The female liger that can reproduce would be likely to do so with a lion. Called a liliger, the first hybrid of that kind was born in a sanctuary not long ago.

A rare animal

The liger is becoming more well known but is an extremely rare animal. According to a 2010 Nightline television report, only about 12 exist in the whole world.

Large cat hybrids are rare and the liger is probably among the more popular of these rarities. Other examples include the pumapard, which is a cross between a leapord and a puma. Health issues that the pumapards often face include dwarfism.

The movie, Napoleon Dynamite has been credited in the past for making people curious about this animal. In the movie, one of the characters sketches a liger and calls it his favorite animal.


The life span of the liger can be thought to average around 20 years. According to Wikipedia, age of death of some various ligers has been recorded as 24 years old, 21 years old and 15 years old respectively.

Liger on Nightline

Liger Hercules - the largest (considered non obese) liger in the world

Liger Hercules with trainer
Liger Hercules with trainer | Source

Animal hybrids

The lion and the tiger, producing the liger, are of the same genus but of different species.

A couple of other examples of animal hybrids include the:

zonkey: a cross between a zebra and a donkey

a zorse: a cross between a zebra and a horse


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 weeks ago

      Can liligers reproduce?

      Do I have the liger reproduction facts right:

      Male ligers can't reproduce.

      Female ligers can be impregnated by lions but not tigers.

      Thank you for posting. It's a very interesting article.

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      3 years ago from USA

      Hi Peggy W, Thanks for stopping by to comment on this hub about the unusual animal, the liger. Thanks for mentioning the broken link. I've removed it now... and I appreciate the tweet!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      The liger is indeed a massive animal. Since they can rarely successfully breed, that is surely nature's way of not continuing this abnormality of genetic makeup. Sometimes scientists get a little crazy with their experimenting. I wonder what was their thought in creating these giant beasts? That last video does not work BTW. Enjoyed learning about the liger. Will give it a tweet.

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your comment!

    • SweetiePie profile image


      4 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Ligers a beautiful animals, but I like all cats.

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi teaches12345, haha, thanks for commenting. Glad you found this to be an interesting read.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I can see from your photos why the lion is king of the jungle. He's pretty massive and you wouldn't want to mess with him. Wow, 922 pounds! That's a lot of cat. Very interesting to read.

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi MsDora, I'm glad you find this interesting and something new that you were not familiar with before. Thanks so much for your kind comment and the vote up!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      "What is a liger?" That was my question when I clicked on your article. Thank you for this very interesting introduction to ligers. Something else to learn about. Voted Up!


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