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All about Ligers


liger imageLigers are hybrid, large cats and are a cross between a male lion and a tigress.  Ligers are very sociable cats, like lions, and are good swimmers, like tigers. 

Their heads usually have the rosette markings of a lion and their bodies have the stripes of a tiger.  Ligers are the largest cats on earth.

Ligers are created in captivity as in the wild a lion and a tiger would be unlikely to meet or mate. 

Ligers tend to have the best qualities of a lion and the best qualities of a tiger.  They are very easy going and love to spend their time swimming and playing with other ligers.  They are equally happy spending time with lions and tigers; they are that sociable!

They are a prime example of the phrase 'hybrid vigour' and they have that in abundance.

Larry the Liger is a fictional character however by reading about Larry children and adults can learn about typical liger traits while enjoying lovely stories with positive messages about kindness and acceptance of others.  The stories are written in a way to encourage positive behaviour in children.


History and Origin of Ligers

Ligers have a very rich history. At least they are almost 2 centuries old in terms of their historical records. The data indicates that the first liger ever born in the world was during 1824 (Maholo, 2010). That means that the 19th century marked the captive existence of the ligers into the world. However, the real evidence about the first ever captive existence of the ligers might be much more earlier than 1824.

According to different reports and historical periodicals the first liger in the world was born in India. Ligers are not born in the wild. The liger which was born in 1799 in India had its painting as well. Therefore, the painting evidence indicates that first ever liger offspring occurred in the sub-continent soil which currently include Pakistan and India. This could also indicate that the first ever liger cub would have been born during the eighteenth century rather than the nineteenth century (, 2010). This would also indicate the fact that this would have happened under the ruling of the British in India. By that time, there would be plenty of tigers and lions living in the jungles of India.

At that time India was primarily under the influence of the British Empire and was labelled as sub-continent. Historically there have been clear records of ligers being presented as gifts to British Royal Family including Queen Victoria. Therefore, it would never be wrong to classify India as a traditional as well as initial major hub for the captive liger breeding in the world. It will be very interesting to see the fact that India is one of the rarest places on earth where tigers and lions both exist. Even at certain places the tigers' territories and lions' territories overlap as well. But there has never been a recorded evidence of ligers in such overlapping territories of lions and tigers.

However, the reports suggested that in the Dir forest of India, there are several shared territories of lions and tigers. People also believed that ligers used to live there centuries ago. But so far there hasn't been any independent confirmation of this event. Dir forest is mostly famous for the wild Asiatic lions (National Geographic, 2010). Asiatic lions are relatively less in weight as compared to the African lions. They often live as a solitary hunter and even are if they live in groups, such groups were very small. Only the tracking of the forensic evidence into the Dir forest could indicate that the ligers have ever existed in the world. Since civilizations have not been settled there and much of the forest still existed as natural habitat, therefore, this tracking of liger's evidence from the region is plausible.

The first ever existence of the ligers in United States followed during the twentieth century. Shasta was the first ever liger to be born in the United States. Therefore, history of the ligers in United States is marked with the birth of Shasta the liger. It is very important to mention the United States here because currently United States is the biggest hub of ligers in the world. There are currently more than 30 ligers in the United States. This population of ligers is expected to grow because there are oodles of tigers as well as lions in the United States which many experts believe is an over-population of the captive big cats. One can purchase a tiger cub in United States for as low as 400 US dollars. Currently there are around 15000 tigers in the United States with all living in captivity.


Are all ligers the same?

One question often asked is are all ligers the same? Putting aside the obvious male and female differences the answer is no not all the same. Even Littermates differ. Later litters from the same parents show distinct differences. Siblings differ.

There are seven different subspecies of Tiger and six different sub species of Lion. It is little wonder there would be such variation.

A reader asks the question 'given there are white lions and white tigers is there such an animal as a white lion?' I have never heard of one but it is feasible if the parents were a white lion and white tiger.

A reader asks if there is an Asiatic Lion is it possible that a lion and tiger did mate in India? Well we know they did in captivity but I suspect you are referring to the wild. I do not think there any Asiatic Lions left in the wild.

The first Liger was born in India in 1824. It was bred by some Maharaja perhaps by accident, perhaps not.


Liger Profile: Gobi the Liger

A female liger named as Gobi lives Horeschoe Creek in United States of America. Gobi is believed to be the longest living liger in the world. She has been able to reach the age of 16 and she is still doing very well (Horeschoe Creek Blog, 2007). Currently in 2010 she should have reached the age of 19 years old.

In the wildlife tigers are supposed to live around 10 to 15 years. The same is true about the tigers as well. But in captivity, the tigers and lions both can live up to 25 and 20 years respectively. From these analyses, it can be significantly concluded that Gobi is going along nicely with the age pattern within the captivity zone.

Probably, in one of the articles here regarding pyometra among lions, ligers and wildcats, the 16 year old liger will probably be Gobi. There is strong evidence about it. Since that article is of 2009, whereas the research was conducted around 2007 and 2008, therefore, there is a very big chance that the Gobi is still alive and it will have reached the age of 19 years.

  Sources and References

  Horeschoe Creek Wild Life Blog. (2007). Ligers. Available at [].


Meet the liger - half lion, half tiger 

 (from - see Links page of this website)



Four-week-old liger, Aries, poses on big brother Hercules and trainer Moksha Bybee. Picture: Snapper Media


Cub Aries gets ahead of the pack. Picture: Snapper Media

A SAFARI wildlife reserve in the US has unveiled the world's biggest hybrid cat - half lion, half tiger - called the Liger.

Four-week-old Aries was presented to the world along with eight-year-old big brother, Hercules, at the Myrtle Beach Safari wildlife reserve in South Carolina.

A cross between a male lion and a female tigress, the two posed for pictures with Aries resting on his sibling’s huge shoulders.

Aries is expected to pile on 0.45kg per day and will be 165kg by his first birthday. But he has a long way to go to catch up with Hercules – who stands almost 183cm tall and weighs more than 406kg.

The liger project has been created by The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.).

“Generally lions and tigers don’t reproduce and the male lion breeding with a tiger has only happened three times,” Dr Bhagavan Antle, the institute’s director, told the UK’s Mail Online.

“The great thing about ligers is they have this extreme social ability they get from their lion fathers. They enjoy the social life and enjoy touching and interactive play.”

Trainer Moksha Bybee said the ligers love rolling against her and want to touch and play.

The liger is bigger than the other alternative combination of the two fiercest big cats - the tigon. Bred in China, the tigon is a cross between a male tiger and a lioness.

Ms Bybee said the ligers have inherited the tiger’s love of water and enjoy a dip to cool down.


What do you get when you cross a lion with a tiger?  A liger!  And these cute cubs will grow into the biggest felines on the planet

(article by Steve Nolan PUBLISHED: 12:38, 3 August 2013 Daily Mail) 

  • Three rare liger cubs were born at Novosibirsk Zoo in southern Russia
  • The month old female cubs have a lion father and a tiger mother
  • The cubs will eventually grow to be the largest known feline species

With the facial features of a lioness but the stripes of a tiger, these adorable cubs are a rarity in the feline world.

The three little cubs may look cute now, but they will grow to be the largest known species of big cat in the world - the liger.

The three rare ligers cubs, which can grow up to 3.5 metres in length, have been keeping their liger mother Zita and lion father Sam on their toes at the Novosibirsk Zoo in southern Russia.

 What do you get 1

Adorable: Three rare liger cubs took their first steps in the outside world after being born at a Russian zoo last month

What do you get 2

Loving: The liger's mother Zita is pictured lovingly grooming one of her cubs

 What do you get 3

Big cats: The cubs will grow up to be the largest known species of feline in the world

What do you get 4

 What do you get 5

 Playful: The liger cubs were pictured playing with their mother on their first foray into the great outdoors

The female cubs were all born a month ago but have just taken their first steps outside.

The tiny trio are all on a diet of their mother's milk at the moment but will tuck in to up to 100lb of meat in one sitting when they are fully grown.

A keeper at the zoo said: 'All three of the girls have completely different characters.

'One is always near their mother's side, one enjoys exploring and one is always misbehaving and play fighting.

 What do you get 6

Motherly love: Two of the ligers stay close to their mother at the zoo in southern Russia

What do you get 7

Cosy: A month old liger cub snuggles up to its mother

 What do you get 8

Big eaters: The cubs are currently on a diet of their mother's milk but will eat up to 100lbs of meat in one sitting when they are older

'Visitors coming to the zoo have been desperate to get a glimpse of the newborns as they are so rare.

'People always comment on how it's hard to believe they grow to be so big as they are so cute and tiny at there moment.'

The animals have faint tiger stripes on a lionesque tawny background.

Male ligers can grow to up to 3.5 metres in length.

The first known liger dates back to 19th century India.


 A roaring success, the world's first white ligers: Four brothers are rarest big cats on the planet

  • Yeti, Odlin, Sampson and Apolo are the world's most unique big cats
  • First 'liger' cubs to be born from white male lion and white female tiger
  • At six weeks old, they already weigh 15lbs and gain a pound a day

By Lucy Osborne

PUBLISHED: DAILY MAIL  22:59, 5 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:05, 6 January 2014

These adorable cubs may look cute and unassuming but they are in fact the rarest of their species – and could grow to be the biggest cats in the world.

The four handsome male ‘liger’ cubs are the first ever to be born from a white male lion and white female tiger, making them the world’s most unique big cats. 

There are only around 300 white lions and 1,200 white tigers left in the world, so the cubs’ father, Ivory and mother, Saraswati, are extremely rare in their own right.

Roaring Success 1

  Meet the family: Yeti, Odlin, Sampson and Apollo are the world's first ever white lion-tiger hybrids - or 'ligers'

Roaring Success 2

Four of a kind: The male cubs were born from a white male lion and white female tiger, making them unique

Roarin Success 3

Rare pairing: Parents Ivory, a lion, and Saraswati, a tiger, were brought together at a park in South Carolina

But now, having been brought together at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, they have produced the first ever white lion-tiger hybrids - commonly known as ligers.

There are around 1,000 ligers in the world – most in captivity – but none of them are white.

Born only six weeks ago, the young animals already weigh 15lbs and gain on average a pound in weight every day.

And the boys, named Yeti, Odlin, Sampson and Apollo, already have their own personalities.

Roaring Success 4

Unique breed: There are around 1,000 ligers in the world - most in captivity - but none of the others are white

Roaring Success 5

Big cats: The handsome male 'liger' cubs already weigh 15lbs and gain on average a pound in weight every day

Apollo is the smallest, who his owners say behaves more like a house kitten, purring all the time and always demanding to be stroked.

Yeti is the biggest and most boisterous, pushing past his smaller brothers and always wanting to be the centre of attention.

The cubs’ uncle, Hercules, is officially the world’s largest cat at 922 lbs and 131 inches long and is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Founder and director of the safari, Dr Bhagavan Antle, who bred the animals, says he is sure Yeti will reach this size – if not larger.

Roaring Success 6

Individual characters: The boys, who were bred at Myrtle Beach Safari, already have their own personalities

‘I am convinced Yeti will make the Guinness Book of Records. He’s so big already – he has such a big, fat head and paws. 

‘All the cubs grow so quickly, but Yeti is already so much bigger.

‘I skip a day seeing them and it looks like they’ve doubled in size. It’s like someone’s blowing them up with a tyre pump.’

Dr Antle, who set up the safari 31 years ago and had his first litter of ligers in 1988, said: ‘People are getting on planes to fly in to see them.

Roaring Success 7

Record size: Their uncle, Hercules (pictured), is officially the world's largest cat at 922 lbs and 131 inches long

‘We’ve had everyone from Congress to people of all walks of life come. They are honestly such an incredibly unique sight.

‘They have a beautiful creamy colour that I’ve never seen on a cat before.'

The cubs are expected to reach 10ft tall by two years old and weigh around 750lbs. 

When they are four-years-old they could weight over 900lbs.

Their father, Ivory, is a white African lion and their mother, Saraswati, is a snow white Bengal tiger.

Ligers tend to enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are sociable like lions

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