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?
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 www.today.com, 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?
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
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