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The Liger

The liger is a cross (a hybrid) between a male lion and a female tiger. It is therefore a member of genus Panthera. As is the case with all hybrid species, there is no scientific name assigned to this animal. A liger looks like a giant lion with diffused stripes. Ligers, unlike lions, like swimming.

Unfortunately, the crossed genes of this species causes it to have health problems, including a high probability of blindness.

A cross between a male tiger and a female lion is called a tigon. According to "The Tiger, Symbol of Freedom" (Nicholas Courtney, editor), rare reports have been made of tigresses mating with lions in the wild.

Large size

Comment "they are so big and beautiful its to bad that they weren't made in the natural world"

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Ligers grow much larger than tigers or lions. Some have been estimated to weigh over 500 kg (1100 lb)[1], over twice the size of a male lion. It is believed that this is because female lions transmit a growth-inhibiting gene to their descendants to balance the growth-promoting gene transmitted by male lions. (This gene is due to competitive mating strategies in lions.) A male lion needs to be large to successfully defend the pride from other roaming male lions and pass on his genes; also, in prides with multiple male adult lions, a male's cubs need to be bigger than the competing males for the best chance of survival. Thus, his genes favor larger offspring. A lioness, however, will have up to 5 cubs, and a cub is typically one of many being cared for in a pride with many other lions. As such, it has a relatively high survival rate, and need not be huge as it will not need to look after itself very quickly. Smaller cubs are more easily cared for and fed and are less strain on the pride; hence, the inhibiting gene developed.

Male tigers do not compete for status, and mate in the way that lions do; a tigress only mates with one tiger when in season, so a tiger does not have the same genetic predisposition to produce large competing offspring. Also, a tigress typically has fewer cubs, and those have a much lower survival rate due to the tiger's solitary nature, so being large and growing quickly are an advantage; there is no need for a growth inhibitor. Being the offspring of a male lion and female tiger, the liger inherits the growth-promoting gene unfettered by a growth-inhibiting gene and typically grows larger than either animal; this is called growth dysplasia. Some male ligers grow sparse manes.

Because of the impossibility of a gene being inherited from only females, there is a competing hypothesis. This untested hypothesis holds that the lion's sperm is damaged somehow during fertilization and that a growth-inhibiting gene is typically destroyed. Female tigons and female ligers both possess a tiger X chromosome and a lion X chromosome, yet only the female ligers will grow large, which suggests that either something happens to alter the genes or the cause of the growth dysplasia lies at least partially outside of genetics.

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Another possible hypothesis is that the growth dysplasia results from the interaction between lion genes and tiger womb environment. The tiger produces a hormone that sets the fetal liger on a pattern of growth that does not end throughout its life. The hormonal hypothesis is that the cause of the male liger's growth is its sterility essentially, the male liger remains in the pre-pubertal growth phase. This is not upheld by behavioural evidence - despite being sterile, many male ligers become sexually mature and mate with females. In addition, female ligers also attain great size, weighing approximately 700 lb (320 kg) and reaching 10 feet (3.05 m) tall on average, but are not fertile.

Vocalisation and behaviour

Ligers may exhibit emotional or behavioural conflicts due to their mixed ancestry.

They inherit different or mixed vocabularies (tigers "chuff", lions roar). G Peters included several hybrids (liger, tigon, leopon, liguar) in his "Comparative Investigation of Vocalisation in Several Felids" published in German in Spixiana-Supplement, 1978; (1): 1-206.

They may inherit conflicting behavioural traits from the parent species. Ligers may exhibit conflicts between the social habits of the lion and the solitary habits of the tiger. Their lion heritage wants them to form social groups, but their tiger heritage urges them to be intolerant of company. Opponents of deliberate hybridization say this causes confusion and depression for the animals, especially after sexual maturity. How much of their behaviour is due to conflicting instincts and how much is due to abnormal hormones or the stress of captive conditions is not fully known.


Ligers have a tiger-like striping pattern on a lion-like tawny background. In addition they may inherit rosettes from the lion parent (lion cubs are rosetted and some adults retain faint markings). These markings may be black, dark brown or sandy. The background colour may be correspondingly tawny, sandy or golden. In common with tigers, their under parts are paler. The actual pattern and colour depends on which subspecies the parents were and on the way in which the genes interact in the offspring.

White tigers have been crossed with lions to produce "white" (actually pale golden) ligers. In theory white tigers could be crossed with white lions to produce white, very pale or even stripeless ligers. A black liger would require both a melanistic tiger and a melanistic lion as parents. Very few melanistic tigers have ever been recorded, most being due to excessive markings (pseudo-melanism or abundism) rather than true melanism. No reports of black lions have ever been substantiated. The blue or Maltese tiger is now unlikely to exist, making gray or blue ligers an impossibility. It is not impossible for a liger to be white, but it is very rare.

Ligers in popular culture

  • Multiple mecha from the Zoids franchise (including manga, anime and model kits) are classified as the Liger-type. The most well known examples are the Blade Liger and Liger Zero.
  • In Go Nagai's manga/anime TV series Getter Robo G one of the title robot's three combination forms is Getter Liger.
  • In Transformers Cybertron, the character Leobreaker transforms into a lion. However, in the show's Japanese version, his alternate moder is called a liger, as evidenced by Japanese name, Liger Jack.
  • Jushin Liger - a professional wrestler
  • In the anime and manga Duel Masters, there is a card called "Deathliger, Lion of Chaos."
  • The anime Dancougar includes a mecha called Land Liger the design of which is based on the animal.
  • In the Marvel UK comic book series Warheads, the leader of the mystical mercenaries called the Warheads is named Col. Tigon Liger.
  • In Irvine Welsh's book Marabou Stork Nightmares, Roy sees a liger during one of his trips to the zoo.
  • In the NES game Rygar, the final boss is a creature named Ligar [sic], who resembles an anthropomorphic lion.
  • The title character of the movie Napoleon Dynamite declares ligers to be "pretty much" his favorite animal, and states that they are "bred for their skills in magic". [2] The liger he draws in the movie does not look like a real liger, rather resembling a manticore. A ramshackle roadside zoo near Preston, Idaho, where the film is set, once housed a menagerie of lion-tiger hybrids as well as lions, tigers and wolves.

Ligers tend to be found in the Sibley Zoo in Mankato, Minnesota along with its relative the Tigon

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they are so big and beautiful its to bad that they weren't made in the natural world
I think that ligers are cool but I'm also against them being made. I mean, like why create them if they can hardly survive. That's just cruel.
i love ligers
in a way i think it is cruel but i also think they are very beautiful creatures
They are very beautiful. The one I saw was playful!
ligers are awesome that is why i am writing a report about them:)
Well then, if we shouldn't create what we want then I guess we should kill all of our domesticated livestock; dogs, horses, cats, etc. They are ALL selectively human bred just to be used by us. We've been playing God since humans came into existence. And what of mules and hinnies? Just because they aren't beautiful means we should ignore them? These hybrids are beautiful animals but I do think they should remain as a mistake breeding between a lion and a tiger, not as a sideshow freak.
Ligers shouldn't have been bred we are playing god. We shouldn't create or kill animals to extinction. Ligers besides don't work they are too big to be camouflaged are slow runners and can't cover great distances we cannot put one in the wild because it could not hunt for itself. We shouldn't create because things always go wrong
It's not "cool" if the poor thing has a horrible life. You people are ridiculously immature. What's cool about a sick, unhappy animal? If I went around blinding tigers and making them so obese that they died a slow, painful death because their organs couldn't support them anymore, would you think they were cool too?
Tigers... Ligons..... Cool!
ligers are awesome but yet i do agree with some people it is wrong in a way because animals needed to be bred with their own kind but they are cool : )
Ligers are cool! They are fascinating creatures!
ligers are the most
awesome animals ever!
ligers are cool
i like them because they are pretty but i do admit it is cruel
i think that its not right to breed animals that aren't supposed to be together
i think that ligers and tigons are interesting however it is very cruel to produce them seeing as they usually cannot reproduce and get depression-now that's just sad!
what that guy talkin' 'bout ligers r the bomb and u should keep makein' then
How dare u combine 2 wonderful animals you are wrong a tiger is a tiger and a lion is a lion it should stay like that
i think a liger is impressive but they're created for entertainment and their life is confusing and depressing for them
my teacher finds them very interesting actually, so do i, i wish i had one as a pet. lol XD
my teacher doesn't  believe in Ligers. she says cross breeding is WRONG! LOL!
i don't no that liger are true
Why breed ligers and tions if it causes death, blindness and health problems?
the liger is HUGE!!!
I love ligers I'm doing a research on them to.
i love ligers.  i did research on them for school.
they're too big to live in captivity, why breed them?
they should have a football team named  the ligers! :P
cool ligers
i think a liger and a tigon are the same because the female liger and tigon look the same so they should be called a liger and he two males tigon and if a liger and tigon crossed their cubs would be called ligion.
I recon that Linor from the Thunder Cats was a Liger because he had a main but still was very strippy. I love Ligers
i love ligers they are the best
they are the coolest animals ever.!
How dare u combine 2 wonderful animals like these that is wrong.

don't know maybe ligon

hey if the liger mates with a tigon what would the cubs be called ?l


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