Animal Images: The Liger by John McCutcheon

Image of the Day

The Liger

Photographer: John McCutcheon


This liger (a tiger and lion) was two months old at the time the photograph was taken.  The man was carrying it, but just in case it decided to jump, he had it on a harness and lead.

This exotic animal farm claims to be successful in breeding these mixtures. The mixed breeds we saw as they have several grown ones seem to be healthy and exhibiting the usual cat  behavior.

The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion and a female tigerThus, the liger has parents of the same genus but of different species. The liger is distinct from the similar hybrid tigon. While the Siberian tiger is the largest pure sub-species, ligers are believed to be the largest of all known extant felines.

Ligers exist only in captivity or zoos because the habitats of the parental species do not overlap in the wild. Historically, when the Asiatic Lion was prolific, the territories of lions and tigers did overlap and there are legends of ligers existing in the wild. Although ligers share characteristics of both lions and tigers, they more closely resemble lions because of the dominant gene. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike the tigon, which tends to be about as large as a female tiger and is the cross between a male tiger and a lioness.

Most ligers suffer from embryonic fatality or premature death, and those that survive are often genetically or physically sterile and therefore unable to reproduce and continue their lineage.

John McCutcheon
John McCutcheon

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