For many years ligers were seen as mythical creatures. There has been a huge debate since they came into the limelight; in the popular 2004 cult movie Napoleon Dynamite when Napoleon described them pretty much as his favorite animal. That prompted the questions that is still being asked today, “Are they real?”, and “What are they really like?” The answer to the first question is, yes, they are very real. Though, the first question is still part of the huge debate; the second question presents most controversy. The second question is so controversial because there is so much uncertainty about them. That in turns questions the future these animals have. Everybody should become more aware of the Liger’s uncertain future by first learning about their past and present. It is looking back that will help us better understand this animal and make people aware of what their future entails.
A liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. It has been said that the liger’s size can be equal to its parent’s sizes combined. The liger can get up to 10-12 feet in length. A full grown male liger can easily weigh up to 1,000 pounds. With the sizes these animals are capable getting to without a doubt makes them the largest big cat member. The appearance of the liger vary a little but basic color is pale ochre to rust yellow-brown. They will have a spotted belly and a striped back. The males, in general, will have a small mane like a lion and facial ruff like a tiger might have. The female ligers tend to show conflicting needs for lioness-like sisterhood and tigress-like solitude (“Ligers,” 2008). Down through history, and very occasionally, animals fitting the description of ligers have been sighted in the forests of India ,and these rumors have persisted for over 1,000 years (“Ligers,” 2002).
A liger born in 2002 at Fuzhou, Fujian Province, lived for more than 100 days. In July 2004, a liger cub born in a wildlife park in Hainan, China died of respiratory failure 72 hours after birth. The liger cub was born underweight and its death was attributed to congenital respiratory failure. According to Hainan biologist Dr. Li Yuchun, only one out of 500,000 lion-tiger ,or tiger-lion cubs survive, due to differences in their chromosomes (“Ligers,” 2008). Russia possibly had its first liger produced by the combination of a Bengal tigress and Africa lion on December 6, 2004 which resulted in two liger cubs. A ligress by the name of Shasta set a longevity record. She was born in 1948 and died in 1972 when she was at the age of 24. An 18- year old male liger weighing 750 pounds was reported by the 1973 Guinness world records to be living in South Africa in 1953 (“Ligers,” 2008). Names of more current ligers are: Hobbs, Suda, Patrick, Sinbad, and Hercules. Hobbs was born in 1992 and died in 2007 shortly turning 14 years old and weighing about 900 pounds. Patrick the liger was born in 1990 and weighs about 650 pounds. Sinbad and Hercules both weigh 900 pounds. Hercules has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest cat on Earth. There is proof both ways that show ligers die early or live long and healthy lives.
Ligers tend to be bred in captivity by accident. Hercules is an example of a liger that was not planned. A lion was kept in an enclosure with some tigresses and Hercules was a result. Some ligers are also occasionally bred for the “pet” market and the future of these animals when in inexperienced hands can be seen as grim (“Ligers,” 2002). Its been said that accredited zoos will not allow the breeding of lions and tigers because it does not help with conservation. Those zoos do not agree with putting different animals together in an enclosure. Many zoos will also not allow ligers because of their size. They fear that the liger will get to big to control. Then everybody says, “What about ligers in the wild?” Though it is not impossible, it just...
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Messy Beast. (2009). Hybrid and Mutant Big Cats. Retrieved July 20, 2009, http://www.messybeast.com
Wordpress Homepage. (2009). Ligers. Retrieved July 20, 2009, http://www.liger.org
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