Wild Fact #885 – This Animal is "Dynamite" – Liger

Wild Fact #885 – This Animal is "Dynamite" – Liger

Photograph by Bill Dow/Shambala Preserve

As I promised, my second week of holidays will provide you with another crazy Wild Facts theme.  I hinted at it last week indicating that each fact would be a combination of two animals.  I didn’t lie either since we will be exploring some of the crazy and popular hybrid animals.  Please don’t expect to see a Wild Fact on the “Cabbit” this week since this cross between a cat and a rabbit does not exist!  I remember having this argument while I was in University so I wanted to emphasize that it is genetically impossible for a cat and rabbit to succesfully breed.

The liger on the other hand does exist and has been made quite popular from the Napoleon Dynamite movie.  A liger is the offspring resulting from the breeding of a male lion and female tiger.  These types of hybrids usually experience giantism where the liger will be much larger than either parent. In fact, a liger is considered to be the largest cat measuring between 2.8-3.6 m (9-12′) long and weigh between 400-600 kg (882-1322 lbs).  I guess at this point, I should mention that ligers don’t occur in the wild.  I don’t want you being afraid of the 1300 pound predator chasing you on your next holiday.  They are only found in captivity since the distribution of tigers and lions don’t overlap in nature.  It is tough to mate with a partner that you never see, right?

The characteristics of these animals vary since the liger gets traits from both a tiger and a lion .  Their colour can be black, brown, tan or orange. It is possible for them to have a mane but doesn’t always occur.  Most ligers are great swimmers which is a quality of the tiger and they tend to be very social which obviously comes from the lion side of the family. I wonder if the liger would be the outcast at an all tiger/lion school? I guess it wouldn’t matter since they are much larger and could just bully his way into popularity.

Since the liger is created from breeding two different species of animals, there are some drawbacks for the offspring.  The male ligers are typcially sterile and have low amounts of testosterone.  The female ligers are fertile but obviously cannot mate with their male counterparts so they have to settle for a male lion or tiger. I guess this lack of reproduction potential is an indication of why you don’t mess around with nature.

It may not be right to play Mother Nature but it sure does make for an interesting Wild Fact. Make sure you come back tomorrow for another unusual cross-breed.

13 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jen February 01, 2010

    Utterly bizarre. I have to admit, the bottom picture kinda screams Photoshop doesn’t it?

    • Avatar
      Nathan February 05, 2010

      It does scream Photoshop! No doubt about it! But it does illustrate the bizarre animal. As well as the silliness of creating these hybrids!

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    melissa February 01, 2010

    I watched a documentary a while ago on the Liger, and what I learned was very disturbing. Not only can these poor animals not mate like a normal animal, but they get so large, very many of them have a difficult time walking, and even break their limbs from sheer body weight, that their legs can not hold up. I find this extremely cruel, and if it was a one time experiment maybe gone wrong then fine, but for these people to continue to design these animals is sick, and disturbing, and should be some kind of law against it. Nothing against you, but that is my thought on the Liger.

    • Avatar
      Nathan February 05, 2010

      That would be an interesting documentary, Melissa! The Liger does get to extraordinary sizes. I hadn’t thought about the health complications that would result from this increase in body weight.

      I really don’t understand the purpose of hybridizing these two animals. Personally, I say let nature do its things but unfortunately, we always want to stick our nose in where it doesn’t belong.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  3. Avatar
    Mark April 10, 2010

    I think the Liger is a wonderful creature. Just because there is no known sittings of Ligers in the wild does not mean they have not or could not occur. The reason why Lion and Tiger habitats no longer overlap, they once did and crossbreeding in the wild is not unheard of. Certain species of birds crossbreed with one another and I’m sure this could extend to other animal species. The health problems of the Liger stem from obesity which is common in many animal species in zoos. Ligers like Hercules from Jungle Island Zoo in Florida is kept under a strict diet which conforms to the physical activity that the animal receives. Whether or not it should be bred in captivity is another story. I believe that no Ligers should be purposely bred but if they occur because of coexistence in a nature preserve or a simulated natural habitat for animal conservation, I see no harm in it and believe that female Ligers should be allowed to mate and produce offspring with other male lions or Tigers.

  4. Avatar
    faheem ur rehman May 14, 2010

    liger i accepted but this pic shocked me kindly telle is it real?

    • Avatar
      Nathan May 16, 2010

      The picture is definitely shocking but as far as I can tell, it is a real picture. I did some research when I posted it since I thought it looked fake as well.

      Thanks for checking out Wild Facts!

  5. Avatar
    Brietta October 15, 2011

    Hybridizing animals may be silly and maybe even wrong–who’s to say? However, I was just reading about an occurrence where some liger cubs were born without intentional breeding. Well, it wasn’t intentional on the humans’ parts, anyway. The tiger and lion were in the same enclosure and well, turns out neither of them were spayed/neutered. The animals chose to mate on their own. Who can condemn that? There was no human manipulation–unless you count capturing these animals and putting them in the same enclosure.

    Link to the story where I read this (it’s a beautiful and interesting story about Hobbs the liger):
    http://www.lionlamb.us/hobbs.html

  6. Avatar
    charlie December 08, 2011

    i think ligers are beautiful animals but to make ligers we also splice there gens as well as mating them

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 13, 2011

      That is a good point, Charlie. They can also splice their genes to create these unique creatures.

  7. Avatar
    jordynne October 30, 2012

    i htink ligers are real, but it is cruel to create them because that doesnt happen in nature, cuz the cats live in completely different places, and they suffer their entire short life

  8. Avatar
    jordynne October 30, 2012

    they are also created by zoos for money do you think thats right?

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