Liger = Crossbreeding Lion & Tigress

A liger is a hybrid animal that results from the cross breeding of a lion and a tiger. A liger has a male lion as its father and female tigress as its mother. This cross breeding does not happen in the wild but rather this cross breeding takes place at zoos. Therefore; all the ligers live in captivity rather than living in a wild. However; according to the experts; it is highly likely that the cross breeding in between lion and tigress can take place in the wild, where both animals are living together (However; such places do not exist today). Ligers are the biggest cat species living on planet earth. National Geographic termed liger as an Ultimate Super Cat.

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Liger - Hybrid Cross Breeding of a male lion and a female tigress.
Ligers are hybrid animals, they are the offspring of a male lion and female tigress. Source:  

The word “LIGER” is also a hybrid word that is derived from the two English words “Lion” and “Tiger”. The “LI” part of the word is derived from the word “LION”. Whereas; the “GER” part of the word is derived from “TIGER”. Therefore both of these words Lion and Tiger have contributed to the new English word “LIGER”. In classical English this word never even existed. However, the word “Liger” might have different meanings in other languages as well. Chinese, Russian, Swedish, Finish and Estonian languages have their own dedicated words for liger. In Finish language it is termed as “Liikeri”.

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Ligers are the biggest cats. Their weight is twice the weight of lions or tigers.
Ligers are the biggest cats. They weigh twice more than lions and tigers. Source:  

There are around one hundred (100) ligers in the world right now. As mentioned earlier, all of these ligers are living in captivity i.e., zoos, animal sanctuaries, private farms and menageries etc. Today; the biggest population of the liger lives in United States, where; there are more than 40 ligers. China is on the second spot, where there are almost 20 ligers. Other countries which have ligers include Russia, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Taiwan, Australia and Indonesia. In Taiwan it is illegal to breed liger. India does not have any ligers right now, but it is believed that history of the captive ligers started from India when three liger cubs were born during 1799, and were presented to the Queen of Britain.

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There are around 100 ligers worldwide with majority of the ligers living in United States and China.
The total estimated population of the ligers in the world is around 100. Majority of these ligers live in United States and China. Source 

Ligers usually weigh around 900 pounds. Lions on the hand weigh around 450 pounds while tigers weigh around 550 pounds. These statistics clearly indicate that ligers weigh twice more than lions or tigers. However; it is not the weight that makes a liger bigger than a lion or a tiger. Liger also has a huge body structure as well. For example a liger has a length of almost 11 feet long whereas; a lion or a tiger has a length of around 8 to 9 feet. This longer length allows a liger to gain more strength, bigger muscles and heavier weight. Similarly; standing on its four feet a liger can gain a height of almost 6 feet (Five and a half feet) while a lion or a tiger can only manage a height of around four and a half (4.5) feet. Therefore; a liger not only has a huge weight, but it also has a bigger body structure as compared to a lion or a tiger.

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Liger weighs around 900 pounds in weight.
The average weight of a liger is around 900 pounds. Source  

The overall visual appearance of a liger resembles that of a lion. For example a liger has a tawny skin which makes it closer in resemblance with a lion (A lion has a tawny brown skin), while a tiger has an orange skin. However; the pattern of the stripes on the skin of the liger makes it resemble closer to the tiger. Ligers also have stripes but these stripes are not as much darker as that of a tiger. But some tigers such as Golden Tabby Tigers also have lighter stripes like a liger. Many people also confuse Golden Tabby Tigers with Ligers. Some ligers have a mane around their neck as well which again makes them closer in resemblance with a lion. On the other hand; the facial markings of the liger and the pattern of its tail resembles it closer to a tiger.

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Appearance of a liger is closer to both lion and the tiger.
The stripes on the skin of a liger make it closer in resemblance to that of a tiger. Source:  

What makes a liger so much bigger, as its parents both the lion and the tigress do not grow as much as 900 pounds. So why are ligers able to grow so much huge and a gigantic? Many researchers and big cat experts believe that ligers do not have growth inhibiting gene. This lack of growth inhibiting gene allows the liger to grow at a faster rate as compared to a lion or a tiger till the age of its maturity. Some people believe that ligers grow all their lives, because they do not have growth inhibiting gene. This is absolutely wrong! Ligers do lack growth inhibiting gene but they only grow till the age of maturity i.e., 4 years maximum like all other big cats, and after that their growth stops. However; it is still very early to say what makes ligers so huge, as more and more research needs to be carried out in this regard. Lacking of the growth inhibiting gene is the only possible explanation up till now.

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Ligers lack growth inhibiting genes. This allows them to grow huge.
Ligers do not have growth inhibiting genes. Therefore; as a result of that ligers are able to grow much bigger as compared to their parents i.e., lion and tiger. Source:  

As mentioned earlier, a liger has a growth period of around 4 years. Ligers on average grow around 1 pound per day. However; a closer observation also reveals that in between second and third years of its life, a liger even grows at a rate of 2 pounds per day as well. Lions and tigers are unable to match this much faster growth rate, as they only grow at around half a pound per day during their growth years. Moreover; a liger cub at the time of its birth is also equal to the lion and tiger cub. Therefore; the growth rate of the liger is faster than that of a lion or a tiger during its growth period days.

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The average growth rate of a liger is one pound per day.
On average a liger grows around one pound per day (During its growth days). Source:  

So how much a liger eats in a single sitting? According to Dr. Bhagavan Antle, who has more than 40 years of experience with ligers, a liger is capable of eating more than one hundred (100) pounds of meat in a single sitting. However; this will make him an obese big cat. Therefore; a liger is usually given a meat of around 30 pounds per week. So what is given as a meal to a liger? Dr. Bhagavan Antle states that ligers are given as a meal known as a “King’s Diet”, which is a mixture of minced meat comprising of beef, mutton, deer, chicken and turkey. Lions and tigers on the hand eat about 12 to 15 pounds of meat per week.

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A liger is capable of eating around 100 pounds of meat in a single sitting.
Normally an adult liger is given around 30 pounds of meat per week. A liger can eat more than 100 pounds of meat in a single meal. Source:  

Ligers are big, huge and heavier but this does not a mean a liger will be a slow moving big cat. A liger is capable of running at around 50 to 60 miles per hour. Lions usually run at around 50 miles per hour while tigers run at around 60 miles per hour. The longer length and stronger muscles of a liger allows it to gain a speed of around 50 to 60 miles per hour. Moreover; they also allow the liger to have bigger leaps while running as well. This speed of a liger is measured by Dr. Bhagavan Antle at its animal preservation station known as Myrtle Beach Safari, South Carolina, USA.

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Average Speed of a liger is around 50 to 60 miles per hour.
Liger can run at a speed of around 50 to 60 miles per hour. In the above picture a liger is chasing an object at full throttle and at the same time its speed is measured as well. Source:  

So how long a liger lives? What is the average age of a liger? A liger has an average lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. This lifespan of a liger is exactly same as that of a lion or a tiger. Both lions and tigers in captivity live for around 12 to 15 years. On the other; lions and tigers in the wild live for around 8 to 10 years. The longest living liger till know was a female liger named as Shasta the liger. Shasta the liger lived for 24 years. Upon her death, her body was preserved and she is honorably standing at Bean Museum in USA. Some critics believe that ligers have a small lifespan which is absolutely wrong because in majority of our studies and observations, ligers have a normal lifespan like that of the other big cats i.e., lion and tiger.

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Shasta the liger lived for 24 years.
The age of Shasta the liger was 24 years which is a world record for a liger's age. On average a liger lives for around 12 to 15 years. Source: 

Critics also posit that ligers are prone to blindness, confused personality and kidney failures. They also state that they have a short body structure and because of that they fail to move normally like other big cats. However; the researchers who have bred ligers for years strongly negate such statements. According to Dr. Bhagavan Antle ligers are physically and mentally as strong as lions and tigers. They live a normal life and they are not vulnerable to any kind of blindness, confused personality or kidney failures. Even National Geographic have shown skeletal parts of the ligers such as their paws, legs and skull which were clearly larger, longer and bigger than the other big cats. So critics have only fabricated negative myths about ligers while the liger experts have proved them wrong.

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Ligers are healthy and live normally - Dr. Bhagavan Antle
Dr. Bhagavan Antle who is a reknowned liger expert says that ligers are healthy and live a normal life like other big cats. Source:  

Behaviorally; ligers possess behavioral characteristics of a lion as well as a tiger. Ligers love to roar like lions. However; they are not as aggressive as male lions but rather they have a very mild personality. Ligers inherit this mild personality from their mother i.e., tigress. Similarly; ligers love to swim and play in water which makes them behaviorally closer to tigers. Lions do not like water and they only swim in extreme and rare situations. Ligers are highly social which again makes them behaviorally closer to lions as they are the only big cat species which live in groups. So behaviorally a liger possesses blend of behavioral traits of lions and tigers.

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Ligers love to swim in the water and they are great swimmers.
Just like tigers, ligers are also great swimmers and they love playing in water. Source:  

Among all the ligers the most famous liger is Hercules the liger. Hercules is a male liger who weighs about 921 pounds. Hercules the liger has 4 brothers. 3 of these brothers are of same age as that of Hercules i.e., Zeus the liger, Vulcan the liger and Sinbad the liger while Aries the liger is a younger sibling of Hercules the liger. Hercules the liger was born during the year 2004. Hercules the liger has twice appeared within Guinness Book of World Records, where he has been declared as the biggest cat living on planet earth. Hercules the liger lives at Myrtle Beach Safari, in South Carolina, USA. Dr. Bhagavan Antle, Moksha Bybee, Rajani Ferrante and China York are the key caretakers of Hercules the liger.


Published Date:

Last Modified: November 12, 2016


Genre: Liger, Lion, Tiger, Cross Breeding, Hybrid, Panthera

Copyright Holder: © Ligerworld - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Year: 2016

Liger Sources & References

All of these sources and references are extracted from reliable liger sources. If you have any queries regarding ligers just feel free to contact us at

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Hercules the liger has appeared twice within Guinness Book of World Records.
Hercules the liger is the most famous liger in the world. Hercules has appeared twice within Guinness Book of World Records during the year 2010 and 2014. Source:  
Facts about Cross breeding of male lion and female tigress.
A liger is an offspring of a male lion as its father and a female tigress as its mother. Ligers are the biggest cats in the world.
Population of the ligers in United States and China.
Majority of the liger population is in United States and in China. Both of these countries represent about 90% of the global liger population.
A Liger weighs around 900 pounds. Whereas; Lions and tigers weigh around 500 and 600 pounds.
In terms of weight a liger is twice bigger than the weight of the lion or a tiger. A liger normally weighs around 900 pounds. On the other hand a tiger or a lion normally weighs around 600 pounds and 500 pounds respectively.