Ligers, believed to be fictional creatures by some, are very real and very rare hybrid species only found in captivity. Ligers are born to a female Tiger (Panthera tigris) mother and a lion (Panthera leo) father. This majestic hybrid beast exhibits physical characteristics of both parents and is likely enact personality traits of both Lions and Tigers. Ligers are one of the most unique animals in the world due to the extreme unlikeliness of a female Tiger mating with a male Lion. Ligers are commonly confused with Tigons which are hybrids born when a female lion mates with a male Tiger which are also not found in the wild due to differing social nature of both species.
Length (Average): Males – up to 3.0 to 3.6m (9.8 to 11.8ft) long; Females – up to 3m long. Standing, the Liger shoulder height averages around 4ft
Weight: Largest extant Liger weight naturally fluctuates around 418.2kg (922lb)
Home Range: Captivity. Does not occur in the wild.
As majestic as it is grand, the Liger is the biggest cat in the world with the largest extant Liger living at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Hercules” is the largest member of his species, and the living cat world, weighing 922 pounds and 10.8 feet long.
The Liger large size is a result of a genetic abnormality known as “growth dysplasia” which is common in hybrids. In short, this condition is caused in hybrids due to absence or abundance of genes that limit or inhibit growth. The large Liger growth is a result of it’s parents (Mother Tiger and Father Lion) not possessing the limiting growth gene. This limiting growth gene is found in male TIgers and female lions which is why most researchers believe Tigons are on average smaller than their parents exhibiting negative growth dysplasia.
It has been noted by Liger handlers that each Liger’s personality and proclivity toward Tiger and Lion is unique to each individual animal. In short, it is very hard to predict how each individual Liger will react to a situation or activity. Will the Liger act like a Lion or TIger? Lions, although decent swimmers, are not very fond of water while Tigers love to splash and play in bodies of water.