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Ligers - Big Cats That Weren't Meant To Be

Updated on May 22, 2012

Ligers - Not an Act of Nature

A Liger, the largest of all cats, is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. These hybrids do not occur in nature because Lions and Tigers are two different species and their ranges seldom overlap.

Ligers do occur in zoos and wild animal preserves where cross-species mating has occurred between a male lion and a female tiger. The results are hybrids of both. This is usually done for money because people like to see the unusual, the strange, the oddity. Less frequently, when a male tiger and female lion mate, the offspring are called Tigons.

I've included here the facts I've gathered about Ligers: their history, traits, and why crossbreeding of Lions and Tigers goes against nature. I've included photos, videos, other information about Ligers.

Photo: Freckles, the rescued Liger at Big Cat Rescue

Ligers: Scientific Classification and History

Ligers are Aborations in Nature

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Panthera

Liger History:

According to Wikipedia: "A color plate of a Liger was made of a Liger in 1799 by Geoffrey St Hilaire. In 1824, the first Liger litter were born and died within a year. the following year, the second litter was born and survived a very short time. The third litter, born in 1826 died after a few months."

"The history of ligers dates to at least the early 19th century in Asia. In 1799, Geoffrey St Hilaire (1772-1844) made a color plate of the offspring of a lion and a tiger."

"In 1825, G.B. Whittaker made an engraving of liger cubs born in 1824. The parents and their three liger offspring are also depicted with their trainer in a 19th Century painting in the naïve style."

Two liger cubs which had been born in 1837 were exhibited to William IV and to his successor Victoria. On 14 December 1900 and on 31 May 1901, Carl Hagenbeck wrote to zoologist James Cossar Ewart with details and photographs of ligers born at the Hagenbeck's Tierpark in Hamburg in 1897.

In 1935, four ligers from two litters were reared in the Zoological Gardens of Bloemfontein, South Africa. Three of them, a male and two females, were still living in 1953. The male weighed 750 lb. and stood a foot and a half taller than a full grown male lion at the shoulder."

Photo: Female and Male Ligers - Wikimedia

Photos: Lion and Tiger - Wikimedia

Ligers: Characteristics

Ligers are the Largest of all Cats

Ligers are huge cats. In fact, they are the largest of all big cats. In nature, Tigers are the largest big cats and Lions are the 2nd largest but the liger offspring grows much larger than either of their parents with females often weighing over 700 lbs and reaching 10 feet long.

The largest male liger, which can be found in the Guinness Book of World Records, is Hercules who weighed in at 900 lbs.

Ligers love to swim like tigers and are social animals like lions.

Most Ligers are sterile, but at least one was mated with a lion and produced a live female cub who lived to adulthood according to Guggisberg, C. A. W. "Wild Cats of the World." (1975).

Photo: Freckles, the rescued Liger at Big Cat Rescue

It's Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature

Ligers Do Not Occur In Nature

Ligers, a breeding of 2 different species was not in nature's plan. The results of the union of these two species creates a weak hybrid. Some of the issues that face ligers are:

- The tiger mother often requires a C-Section due to the large size of a liger which can be fatal.

- Many ligers die within a few days or weeks of birth.

- Ligers are known to have unstable temperaments.

- Ligers are prone to gigantism due the lack of a growth-inhibiting gene which means they grow throughout a very large portion of their lives.

- Ligers have many health problems due to genetic abnormalities and neurological defects associated with hybridization.

- Ligers are genetically weak and typically live much shorter lives than either of their parents.

- Ligers are prone to diseases such as cancers and arthritis.

Photo: Freckles, the rescued Liger at Big Cat Rescue

Meet Freckles The Liger - Read Freckles Story

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