Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Liger - A Fascinating Progeny

Let's take a look at something that is not found in the wild and is quite a rarity. The liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger and it is the largest known cat in the world, growing up to 10 feet long and weighing 900 pounds. They are born in captivity and there have been no reported cases of a liger being born in the wild, since lions and tigers live in different parts of the world. As of today there are an estimated 100 ligers in the world. The history of the liger is quite unknown however there has been evidence of their existence in the 19th century. The first liger cubs were reported to be born in 1824 in Windsor, United Kingdom.


Ligers vary in appearance. Some male ligers have manes yet others do not. They have dark brown stripes unlike tigers, which have black stripes. The stripes fade away as the liger ages. Female ligers resemble lionesses and have little or no stripes. The tail of a liger is similar to that of a tiger.

Male and Female Liger

Ligers are believed to have a short lifespan because of their large size however a female liger named Shasta lived to the age of 24 before dying in 1972. In 2007, a male liger named Nook died at 21 years old. Another male liger, Hobbs, lived to the age of 15 years old before dying of liver failure.


Male ligers are sterile however females are capable of producing cubs. The first known offspring of a female liger and male lion was born in a Russian zoo in September 2012 and is called a liliger. In May 2013, the same couple produced three more liligers.

Kiara, a liliger

Ligers Today

The most well known liger today is Hercules, a 922 pound male who lives at the Myrtle Beach Safari wildlife preserve in South Carolina. He has been featured on many shows and has even been entered into the 2014 edition of the "Guinness World Records" book as the largest cat in the world. Hercules has three brothers; Zeus, Sinbad, and Vulcan, who have also been featured on shows. 

On October 29th, 2008, a liger named Rocky attacked a volunteer at the Wagoner County wildlife sanctuary in Oklahoma during feeding. The 32 year old victim, Peter Getz, died a day later in the hospital from a puncture wound in the neck. This is the first known liger attack. It is reported that Getz ignored the warning signs of not going in Rocky's cage (due to the animal's unpredictable behavior) and went ahead to feed the liger. Rocky was not euthanized after the incident.

Did you know?  The uncommon counterpart of a liger is a tigon, a hybrid which has a tiger father and a lion mother.


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