To many, a liger is a mythical creature that exists only in legends and inside Napoleon’s sketchbook. However, this animal is real and exists in a few places around the world today. A liger is a unique hybrid created when a female tiger and male lion mate. Below is more about how ligers originated and other interesting facts about them.
The History of Ligers
Ligers first appeared in the 19th-century in British-controlled India when British officials decided to see if a tiger and lion could mate if put together. In 1799, they successfully mated a tigress and male lion. The tigress later gave birth to three ligers. The animals became so popular that they were presented to Queen Victoria and depicted in numerous paintings.
As the years progressed, more ligers were born, including a litter at a zoo in South Africa. It wasn’t until the 1930s that they received the official name “liger”. Today, the liger population is strong with most countries having one.
Facts About Ligers
• Ligers are one of the biggest cats in the world.
• Ligers aren’t believed to appear naturally in the wild. Rather, they are the result of mankind.
• They only exist in captivity and can be found in a majority of zoos around the world.
• Ligers tend to grow to be much bigger and heavier than their parents.
• Some of their favorite food is wild deer and boar.
• They can run up to 50 miles-per-hour.
• Hercules is one of the largest ligers to exist and weighs over 900 pounds.
• The roar of a liger sounds like a mixture of a lion’s and tiger’s call.
• Ligers love swimming and can often be seen at zoos playing in pools.
• This animal is very tolerant and tends to have a very calm personality.
Can Ligers Reproduce? Are Ligers Sterile?
Female ligers are fertile but males tend to have trouble creating offspring because they are usually sterile. However, even female ligers have trouble reproducing due to their quirky genetics which can result in little to no offspring for them. For the best chances of a female liger reproducing, she must mate with a male lion.
Because baby ligers tend to be much larger than the female, they are delivered via cesarean section. While this is meant to help the offspring survive, it’s not always successful because their body is abnormally big which can lead to significant health problems for both the litter and their mother. Despite this, a handful of female ligers have given birth to an impressive amount of offspring, such as a female liger at a Chinese zoo who gave birth to over 12 cubs.
How Many Ligers Exist?
It is believed that there are about 100 ligers in the world, most of which live in zoos, animal sanctuaries, and similar wildlife centers. Most ligers can be found in Russia, China, and the United States.
Despite their population being somewhat small, technology has made it possible to breed ligers in a way that helps them to give birth to a healthy and large litter. Due to this, their population could easily double within the next few years.
Do Ligers Have Health Problems? Are Ligers Healthy?
While ligers are somewhat healthy they can suffer from a variety of health problems due to their genetics. Because ligers are much larger than their parents, a condition known as gigantism, they suffer from bone problems like arthritis. In addition to this, they are predisposed to hormonal issues that cause problems with their thyroid. Other concerns for ligers include neurological problems, organ failure, abnormal facial development, and cancer. Despite these common health issues if a liger is cared for properly most of these can be prevented.
How Long Do Ligers Live?
A liger can live to be up to 20 years old. However, healthy ligers in captivity can sometimes have a lifespan of up to 25 years thanks to advances in the medical field.
Could a Liger Survive in the Wild?
While ligers aren’t normally found in the wild they could definitely survive in it. Ligers are strong and fast meaning they could easily catch prey when necessary. In addition to this, they are social animals so they could easily join a pride or coalition of lions. Unlike many other animals, ligers have no predators meaning they can relax in the wild without fear of becoming another’s meal.
However, the liger population won’t increase in the wild because of their reproductive concerns. Their health issues can also cause a handful of problems making it difficult for them to function on their own sometimes.
Are Ligers Stronger Than Tigers?
Ligers are significantly stronger than tigers. In fact, they are considered to be two tigers in one due to their muscularity. On average, tigers weigh about 500 pounds while ligers can weigh up to 800 pounds. Thanks to their strength, ligers are extremely powerful animals that not only run at impressive speeds, but can kill large animals, like buffalo, in seconds for meals.
What is a Tigon?
A tigon is the offspring of a female lion and male tiger – the opposite of what creates a liger. Tigons are smaller in both size and weight compared to ligers. While both these animals have a similar appearance, there is a slight difference in their fur. For instance, ligers have more visible strips on their fur compared to tigons. However, tigons have a face that looks more like a tiger’s compared to ligers.
Tigons are also rarer compared to ligers because they are even more difficult to breed. Because of this, you are more likely to see a liger than you are a tigon. In fact, tigons are believed to only exist in nine countries, unlike ligers that are found in quite a few.
Ligers are real animals but are mainly found in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. While they are an interesting rare creature in the world, they do have a few health issues caused by their abnormal genetics. Despite this, they are extremely powerful animals and show the uniqueness of the animal kingdom.