Meet the largest cat breed that is still around today, a strange creature that is shrouded in myths and mystery: Some people would not believe it existed—Meet the liger.
Ligers are a unique and rare hybrid of jungle cats, being born only as the offspring from mating between a male lion and a female tiger.
Cross species breeding between lion and tigress pairings has only been known to happen in captivity, although it is possible that ligers may have been birthed in the wild, only the proof is not verifiable today. Ligers end up being born with genetic characteristics of lion and tigress, but grow to much bigger sizes than either of their original parents.
The average liger is 10 to 12 feet long and weighing more than both parents combined mass. These facts have created the reputation that ligers are undeniably, the largest known cat breed that is still around today. Ligers are quite varied in appearance depending on their unique individual gene pool mix.
This means that technically ligers have no scientific name, being their own subspecies and can only be classified as a genus unto themselves, but some scientists refer to their breed as panthera leo X tigris.
In the book “Animal Life and the World of Nature” written by A H Bryden in 1903, a dynamic description of living ligers is given.
According to the text, “A good big lion will weigh about 400 lbs. the hybrid in question, weighing as it does no less than 467 lbs, is certainly the superior of most well-grown lions, whether wild-bred or born in a menagerie. This animal shows faint striping and mottling, and, in its characteristics, exhibits strong traces of both its parents. It has a somewhat lion-like head, and the tail is more like that of a lion than of a tiger.
On the other hand, it has little or no trace of mane. It is a huge and very powerful beast.”
Some zoo authority agencies have argued that allowing ligers to be bred in captivity is unnatural. As if these beautiful giants of the cat world were some sort of abominations, or mutations that should be excluded from nature all together, but this is a myth.
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According to www.ligerliger.com, a major animal support and information website, “Lions, leopard, jaguars, and tiger are often kept in the same enclosures by animal trainers so they can have the largestpossible space. This also gives them an enriching social life. Most of the time they will not breed. They may get along well but not reproduce unless the animals themselves decide they like each other. All big cats are stimulation ovulators.That means artificial insemination is impossible. Lions and tigers must be in love to reproduce, and it is only achieved by natural means.”
Also the arguments that ligers are unnatural is based on the assumptions that the only occurrences of such creatures is in captivity.
Although most evidence supports this theory, it isn’t verifiable scientifically. There are many opinions, but as was aptly stated in a 2005 issue of Bellwether Magazine, “All known instances of tiger–lion interbreeding have been in captivity: the two species naturally overlap only near the Gir Preserve in Bangladesh, and even then the big cats would be unlikely to mingle.”
As with all animals, ligers are unique to their environment, need to be understood and must find a way to co-exist within the world of human beings in order to survive. Only a handful have ever lived on the planet Earth. Currently only four are known to be alive today.
This maybe the only chance for human beings to be around these majestic cat giants, who are not part of evolutionary natural selection nor are they a species that is endangered, but could become extinct. Simply because their pride will never increase in numbers.
Perhaps cats like ligers were the inspiration for the Sphinx or other mysteries in mankind’s past. For today, we have a change to know and spend time with them. While their species is still living with us.
This reality is all most people need to know, when considering the impact of ligers in the world of humans and this is the best reason that we should encourage everyone to meet them with compassionate kindness. Because ligers are the gentlest giants of all the mammals on Earth.
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