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Liger = Crossbreeding Lion & Tigress

A liger is an animal that results from the cross breeding program of two distinctive big cats. . It is an offspring, that results from an intercourse in between male lion and female tiger (Lion and tigress). Currently, this cross-breeding does not happen in wild, but rather this cross breeding takes place in zoos and captivity in different countries around the world. A liger is purely a carnivore animal. Ligers are the biggest meat consuming carnivore in the world. Ligers are the biggest among the cat species and also biggest among the carnivore species as well. Both lions and tigers are less than half the size of the ligers. [1]

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Picture of Hercules the Liger. Hercules is the most famous Liger in the World. 

The word “LIGER” is also a hybrid word that is emerged from two English words “Lion” and “Tigers”. The “LI” Word in “LIGER” is adopted from “LION”, while “GER” word is specifically adopted from “TIGER”. This makes the whole word “LIGER”. The word “Liger” is a modern English word. In classical English this word never even existed. However, the word “Liger” might have different meanings in several other languages as well. Very few other languages in the word have adopted this word into their own language terms. Only Chinese, Korean and Estonian languages have their own words for liger. For example in Estonian language the word liger is termed as “Liikeri”.

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Picture of a Liger from United States of America. Courtesy of 

There are very few numbers of ligers all around the world. Since their breeding is done in captivity, and they do not exist in the wild for the moment, therefore, their numbers are relatively less. According to different sources for estimates about ligers, there are nearly 100 ligers in the world. In 1972, there was only 1 liger in the world named as Shasta. United States of America has the highest numbers of ligers around 30. China is on the second spot with around 20 ligers in the world. Both of these estimates are recorded during 2010. [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9].

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Watch the ultimate adventures of Larriot the Liger written by Megan Meyer. 

Ligers have a huge body structure. They have bigger and stronger bones. They have bigger teeth. The mouth of the ligers is as big as the shoulders of a man. Therefore, as compared to lions and tigers, ligers are not bigger in weight and length but their other physical traits are also bigger than lions and tigers as well. Similarly, ligers’ legs’ length are also bigger than that of the lions and tigers. At its back legs, ligers are usually about 4 and half feet tall, from their toes to humps. On the other hand, from their toes of first legs to top of the ears they are as tall as 6 feet. Therefore, overall liger is absolutely bigger than lion or tiger in all aspects. As a result, it is not the weight that makes it big, but also the huge body structure that also makes it biggest as well. [13].

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A Liger in Chinese Province of Harbin. Photo is posted with permission. has rights. 

The body structure of the ligers resembles that of the lion. In some cases male ligers have mane. However, in some cases the male ligers do not have manes. It actually depends on the basis of attributes which they inherit from their parents. The manes of the ligers are not too much big. If the ligers have mane, that mane is very well groomed naturally. Lions, on the other hand have very heavy manes like bushes. The tail of the ligers specifically resembles that of the tiger. It also has stripes on its tail as well. However, in some cases, the tail resembles exactly like that of the tigers. [12]. Ligers have same numbers of teeth like that of the lions and tigers. Lions have 30 teeth, and so do the tigers as well. Therefore, ligers have 30 teeth as well. However, the real difference between the teeth of the ligers vs. teeth of lions and tigers is that ligers’ teeth are very much big. The canine teeth of the ligers are twice the length of the tigers’ or lions’ canine teeth. Ligers have bigger jaws than that of the tiger and lion. Therefore, width of each tooth within the ligers’ jaws is bigger as well. This also indicates a clear indicator that a bite force and bite intensity of the ligers will be much lethal than that of the lions and the tigers. [1-12].

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Picture of Rocky the Liger in United States. Photo is posted with permission.  

There is very little knowledge about why the ligers are being able to grow as much bigger as compared to their parents. Still a lot of research is carried out to understand what makes the ligers to grow. Scientists have found one clue so far that ligers do lack one thing and that is a growth inhibiting hormones. This makes the ligers to grow much bigger. But this finding has been highly criticized as well because if ligers possess growth inhibiting hormones, why does their growth just stop after 8 to 9 years?

Ligers grow faster than lions and tigers. Even a small liger cub grows faster than the cubs of tigers and lions. A 60 days old liger is around 16 pounds in terms of its weight. While at the same age, the tiger cubs weigh around 9 pounds. A 90 days old liger cub weighs around 36 pounds. On the other hand it takes about 120 days for a tiger cub to gain a weight of 36 pounds. At the time of birth, both the liger and tiger cubs are of the same weight. The same is true about lion and liger as cubs as well. This is a clear indicator that the percentage growth of the liger cubs is much faster than the tiger or lion cubs.

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Picture of a Russian Liger Lira (Lyra). Picture is posted with permission from Novosibirsk Zoo.  

At a single sitting aliger is capable of eating more than 100 pounds of meat. However, the keepers and handlers do not want to make the ligers obese. Usually they give the ligers about 30 pounds of meat in one day. This is a good diet for a healthy liger. On the other hand lions and tigers consume about 9 to 12 pounds of meat in one day not more than that. These statistics indicate that ligers’ consume large quantities of meat than any other carnivore mammal on the planet. According to Dr. Antle he gives Hercules his liger about 25 to 30 pounds of meat in one day. He said he can give him more but that will make him fat and will gain more weight and even he will unable to walk with that weight.

Another very important query about the ligers is their speed. In terms of their speed ligers are very fast. According to Dr. Antle, a liger is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour. This speed is even faster than the tiger. But according to some other sources, ligers are capable of speeding up to 50 miles per hour. This speed is equivalent to that of the tigers. Lions are capable of speeding up to 40 miles per hour. Therefore, on the basis of these speed analytics, liger is a second fastest cat in the world after Cheetah which sprints around 80 miles per hour.

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Liger Hercules Sitting on a Stool during King Richard's Faire Festival in United States. 

Different writers have written that ligers have a very small span of life. However, there is no solid evidence about this claim that ligers live a small span of life. It is true that in most of the cases whenever, the liger cubs are born they die soon. But 50% of the tiger cubs and almost same numbers of lion cubs also die soon after their birth. The maximum recorded age for the liger is 24 years. That age was of the Shasta the liger.

Lions in the wild live only 10 to twelve years. Tigers in the wild live around 10 to 15 years. Lions in the captivity live up to 15 to 20 years, the same age is true about the tigers as well. The same statistics are true for the ligers as well. In this web project of ligers have lived as normal as lions and tigers. These statistics are specifically true for the adult ligers. For example a liger in Bloemfontein lived for 17 years in 1960s. One of the liger at the Wisconsin animal sanctuary in United States lived for 21 years. Given their lesser population in the world, with these results of higher ages, it will be very wrong to establish the truth that ligers have a shorter span of life.

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Picture of a Female Liger Resting in South Korea's Zoo. has got an authorization of this picture from its owner. The orignal image is available at cerekwan photo profile on flickr pics 

Different researches have carried out to understand the possibility of the pyometra within the wild cats. These also include ligers as well. However, the findings of the study indicate that ligers are not in a big risk of develop pyometra at any stage of their life. In fact ligers are less vulnerable to pyometra. As compared to ligers, the lionesses are more prone to develop pyometra, while tigresses are on the second number to develop pyometra. The ligers’ ability to be less vulnerable to pyometra is another vital proof that these animals have a very strong immune system and they are not vulnerable to different diseases [17].

There are some rumors and speculation that ligers are prone to blindness and they do not have a very good vision. This is another fallacy and it is not true at all. This research of has not witnessed a single liger which had a vision problem. This research has taken into account more than 20 ligers’ information, and not even found a single liger about which there has been a claim that it has a visionary problem. Therefore, blindness and visionary constraints for ligers are just limited to the rumors. If we ask any big cat expert and it will say that the vision of this liger is sharp as a bull’s eye.

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A liger sitting in its cage. This picture is spcifically posted with a permission of Heather's Profile for Liger Pics in flickr. 

So far until, now there has never been any discovered evidence that ligers have existed in the wild. But on the other hand a very little effort is being made to discover the existence of the ligers in the wild. However, there are some reports which suggest that ligers have existed in the wild. In the Gir forest, the territories of lions and tigers overlap in India. People and even some experts believe that ligers have existed in this area hundreds of thousands years ago. But no evidence is being tracked yet.

Lions and tigers are enemies in the wild. According to National Geographic Program “Last Lions of India”, a tiger having more weigh as compared to a lion can actually kill a lion. But possibility of the tiger and lion mating cannot be ignored, given that the population of both the groups will be higher. Dr Antle says that if there will be hundreds of thousands of tigerss and hundreds of thousands of lions, there is a possibility of overlapping territories of lions and tigers. This can also lead towards the possibility of existence of ligers in the wild in the ancient times as overlapping of territories may encourage the mating of the lions and tigers.

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World's Famous Liger Hercules with World's famous liger expert Dr. Bhagavan Antle. 

In terms of their behavior ligers possess a blend of both the lions and tigers. Some believe, in terms of behavior a liger possesses both the lions and tigers. Ligers are highly socialized. This trait comes from the lions. Ligers love to swim in water. This is a trait of a tiger. Ligers when they grow old, they still have a very mild behavioral personality. On the other hand, lions when they grow especially the males, they become highly ferocious and territorial and do not tolerate human interferences that include their trainers from the childhood.

Ligers roar like lion and puff like the tiger. Ligers possess both the voices of lion as well as that of the tigers. Some people believe that ligers have a personality disorder. This is a very wrong belief assumption about the ligers. No study has given evidence that the ligers have a behavioral disorder. Some people believe that they are stuck in a double mindedness about what to do and what not to; according to many liger experts this is also very wrong myth about ligers as well. Therefore, personality wise and behavioral wise, ligers are as equal as lions and tigers. The blend of tiger and lion allows it to gain and inherit the best from tiger and lion.

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Picture of a Liger Cub inside a room Playing with a chair. The Picture is retrieved with a proper permission from its owner 

There are also rumors that ligers have kidney problems. In order to verify this whether they really have kidney problem, underwent a study of different ligers and their deaths. In the study of the 15 ligers only 2 ligers were those that died because of renal failure or kidney failure. One of That liger was 24 years of age already and has already lived up to maximum. The other liger was more than 12 years old and it has also lived almost majority of its age. Therefore, this is another fallacy or misbelieve that ligers vulnerable to kidney failures. Given an extremely lesser population of the ligers, and yet still finding that the possibility of kidney failure is 1.5 in every 10 ligers is not an alarming call at all.
A big question mark about the ligers is that whether they can sustain such a huge weight on their bodies. According to Dr. Antle, a liger’s body structure is huge. The body structures of the ligers are huge enough to sustain all such kinds of heavy weights which they gain over themselves. Ligers have huge jaws, big bones, larger skeletal structure and bigger muscles. The body of the liger is built to undertake every kind of weight stress over it. A liger is capable of sprinting at 60 miles per hour which is another proof that despite such a weight a liger is fully capable of running that much fast. If its body would have been unsustainable for such a huge weight, it would even have barely walked a few steps only. Therefore, it is another misbelieve about the ligers that its body cannot withstand its huge weight. Moreover, no evidence has been found which specifically indicates that a liger having huge weight had an unsustainable body to withhold such a pressure.

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Liger Pics from Liger Magazine. LIGERWORLD introduces the first ever Liger Magazine. Liger Magazine contains 7 core issues about Ligers. 

The list of fallacies, myths and wrong notions about ligers are huge. One such misconception is that ligers are infertile. This is totally wrong as well. According to Dr. Antle who has more than 20 years of ligers’ experience said that it is a very crazy notion to say that ligers are infertile. He primarily belives and claims that ligers reproduce. Female ligers reproduce much better than the male ligers. In another study it was found that the male ligers have the same level of testosterone as that of lions and tigers. Even for a further proof, female ligers have given birth in the past as well to reproduce li-liger, ti-liger etc.

Among the bunch of rumors about ligers, one of them is that the tigress has to go through a c-section operation so that a liger cub is produced. This stance claims that liger cubs are bigger than lions’ and tigers’ cubs. This is another wrong statement. Liger cubs are almost the same the size of the tigers and lions. But the growth of the liger cubs is much faster than that of the lions and the tigers. The research of has not found a single case in which a tigress has undergone a c-section for reproducing the ligers. Moreover, there has not been any report that tigress has died while giving birth to a liger. Consequently, all of these claims about c-section and ligers are wrong. Even the liger expert Bhangavan Antle himself denied the reports of c-section about ligers [18].

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Picture of Hercules the Liger at King Richards' Faire. Picture is Taken in 2009. has rights. 

Since lions and tigers are endangered species, many countries have put a big halt on cross-breeding of the lions and the tigers. Taiwan is one such example. In the most recent case in Taiwan a man had to pay 1500 US dollars as a fine for illegally breeding ligers in Taiwan. However, breeding of lions and tigers is totally legal in majority of the States in United States. There can be many reasons for that because United States has a large numbers of tigers as well as lions in the world. Tigers and lions are considered as endangered in that part of that world. Therefore, the cross breeding is legal there.

However, there can be many other reasons for making it legal within United States. These can include scientific study about the hybrids, studying the behavioral traits of the ligers, understanding the genetics of the cross-breeding and so on. Remember the United States is the big research hub in the world, such things are always preferred there to proceed unless it does not harm the other people’s habitat. In China it is legal for certain zoos to cross-breed lions and tigers to produce ligers as well. China is the second biggest population hub for the ligers in the world.

There is a big issue about the ethics of breeding ligers. Many people say that it is inappropriate to breed these two cats together. They regard it as highly unethical. They also regard it as deliberately violation of ethical principles. However, for others breeding a liger is for the scientific study reasons only. On the other hand some people breed them for taking money, which is totally unethical. Dr. Antle says that it is not a good option to have ligers as pet at homes. But he believed that ligers’ breeding is totally a realistic thing as it would have surely occurred in the wild when, there would be maximum numbers of lions and tigers having overlapping territories. Therefore, for him it is ethical to breed ligers. Ligers attract a lot of people for their huge, gigantic and mammoth appearance. Whenever, people are told about ligers, they feel highly surprised. Even more surprisingly many people around the world are not aware of the ligers. Taking these considerations in mind, some pet owners are deliberately cross breeding lions and tigers to produce ligers. Later on they sell these ligers to third paraties. Quite often they often send it to such individuals who only take care of them only during the first few months. When they grow big they usually abandon them. Such ligers if they are lucky end up at the sanctuaries or otherwise they really end up very badly and harshly in their lives. One of the biggest reason to abandon these cats is actually their very high degree of food consumption.

In United States of America, trading big cats is a multibillion dollars business. United States have the largest population of tigers in the world. One cannot find enough tigers in wild than in United States of America because in the wild there are only 3500 tigers while in United States there are more than 15000 tigers in captivity. The cost of a tiger cub in United States is around 1000 to 4000 US Dollars which is financial very much within the purchasing power. On the other hand, liger trading is the most expensive and highly lucrative of them all. Many zoos and animal sanctuaries prefer to adopt ligers. This increases the numbers of visitors and brings more financial streams to their sanctuaries and zoos. Moreover, ligers receive more media coverage as compared to tigers and lions. Take an example of Hercules, whenever it appears at any show, it gathers more attention that tigers and lions. Hercules comes as a leading big cat among other gigantic cats. Liger cubs born in Taiwan recently in 2010, received much more media attention than the white lion cubs born in one of the Croatian zoo in 2010 within the same month.

According to different studies and findings of the experts ligers are believed to be less ferocious than the lions. Dr. Antle says that ligers have a very mild personality and they are highly socialized. But it highly depends upon the training and the environment of the liger as well. In 2008, a liger named as Rocky killed a trainer at an animal sanctuary in United States. Rocky was not a fully tamed liger. It did not have a good captive experience right from its birth and it was laterly adopted at another animal sanctuary in Oklahoma. As a consequent of that, no one was allowed to go near that liger. Moreover, no one had a good exposure over the past history of the Rocky the liger and they were not sure about how well this liger would behave. But it was believed it was the victim of violence and that was why the workers at the sanctuary were only allowed to give him food from outside rather than going inside.

Peter Getz a big cat trainer and volunteer in United States ignored these warnings and entered the cage of Rocky to feed him. Sadly the animal badly mauled him and later after a day Peter Getz died of injuries caused by Rocky. It was the first ever liger killing incident in the world. Before that a liger was being able to hurt the knee of a small girl, but it was shot dead by the father of that girl. That father of the girl was actually the owner of the liger. It is also estimated that each year in United States about 10 people on average die because of big cat attacks. United States globally is a hub of captive big cats with huge amount of big cat species than ever in the wild. has studied many ligers and the profiles of all of those ligers are separately available in other links on this website. has studied 90% of the ligers all around the world. has studied the following ligers

Hercules the Liger, Patric The Liger, Samson The Liger, Gobi The Liger, Wayne The Liger Cub, Chinese Twin Ligers (Ping Ping and An An), Quadruplet Liger Cubs in China, Shasta the Liger, Triplet Liger Cubs in Taiwan, Nook the Liger, Sinbad The Liger, Rocky The Liger, Freckles The Liger, Lyra the Russian Liger, Ligers at Germany’s Noah’s Ark Zoo, White Ligers, Rapido the Liger, Triplet Ligers at Wisconsin, Zeus the Liger, Vulcan the Liger, Kalika the Liger, Radar the Liger, First ever Japanese Liger, Malinka and Leelo The Twin Ligers, Oden The Liger and Twin Russian Ligers (Geeta and Seeta). Moreover, has also studied the first ever liger cubs born in South Korea, Italy, Russia, India and China as well. The information about all of these ligers is available in other separate articles at

Liger Sources & References

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Ligers can Grow More than 10 Feet Long.