A frisky lion boy + a nice tiger girl = Liger

by Rebecca on September 10, 2009

in Animals in the News

He looks like something from a prehistoric age or a fantastic creation from Hollywood. But Hercules is very much living flesh and blood – as he proves every time he opens his gigantic mouth to roar. Part lion, part tiger, he is not just a big cat but a huge one, standing 10 ft. tall on his back legs. Called a liger, in reference to his crossbreed parentage, he is the largest of all the cat species. On a typical day he will devour 20 lb. of meat, usually beef or chicken, and is capable of eating 100 lb. at a single setting.

At just three years old, Hercules already weighs half a ton. When he is fully grown he is expected to reach 12 ft., and almost 1,200 lbs. He is the accidental result of two amorous big cats living close together at the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, in Miami, Florida, and already dwarfs both his parents. “Ligers are not something we planned on having,” said institute owner Dr Bhagavan Antle. “We have lions and tigers living together in large enclosures and at first we had no idea how well one of the lion boys was getting along with a tiger girl, then lo and behold we had a liger.”

Hercules has the strength of a lion and the speed of a tiger, reaching 50 mph. He will also grow a mane like his father, but just a small one, and sports his mother’s tiger stripes on his huge body. And when he opens his fearsome mouth he can both roar like a lion and give a purr-like snort like his mother. Not only that, but he likes to swim, a feat unheard of among water-fearing lions. In the wild it is virtually impossible for lions and tigers to mate. Not only are they enemies likely to kill one another, but most lions are in Africa and most tigers in Asia.

But incredible though he is, Hercules is not unique. Ligers have been bred in captivity, deliberately and accidentally, since shortly before World War II. Today there are believed to be a handful of ligers around the world and a similar number of tigons, the product of a tiger father and lion mother. Tigons are smaller than ligers and take on more physical characteristics of the tiger.

Here also is a National Georaphic YouTube video on Ligers with an interesting explanation on why they are so large: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zOWYj59BXI

 pic

pic

pic

pic

pic

pic

pic

 


Previous post:

Next post: