Tigon = A Hybrid of Tiger & Lioness


A tigon is a hybrid big cat that results from the crossbreeding of a male tiger and a lioness. Since; tigons result from crossbreeding, therefore; they are considered as hybrid big cats. The birth of the tigons also indicate that lions and tigers are very closely related with one another and they can successfully breed with one another. Furthermore; it also indicates that their (Lions and Tigers) DNAs are elastic enough for a successful mating together. Tigons appear as perfect big cat with all the core attributes of the big cats. They have power, strength, agility and dominance like all the big cats possess. In fact, in a general comparison they can be ranked among the apex level big cats i.e., lions and tigers.

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Tigon is a hybrid big from crossbreeding of tiger and lioness.
A tigon is an offspring of tiger and lioness. Tigons are hybrids because they are produced through crossbreeding of tiger and lioness. Photo courtesy of 

The history of the tigons dates back to the 20th century. During 1920s several English Newspapers and Journals have published stories and characteristics of the tigons. In 1924 “The Illustrated London News” published an article about Tigon at The Gardens of the Zoological Society of London. This was one of the oldest archive about the tigons from British newspaper source. Tigons were also published within the newspaper articles during 1930s as well. At that time both London Zoo in 1936 and Manchester Zoo in 1938 both had tigons at their premises. A very famous tigon named as Maude the tigon lived at Manchester Zoo in England in 1930s and 1940s. Today; England’s Manchester Museum also has a preserved body of Maude the Tigon which lived from 1936 to 1949. Both of these tigons were born in India and they were gifted to the British Royal Highness. It is also believed that like ligers, the world’s first tigons were also born in India. Therefore; big cat hybrids i.e., tigons and ligers both emerged from India.

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Maude the Tigon lived at Manchester Zoo from 1936 to 1949.
A preserve of Maude the Tigon is still present at Manchester Museum. Maude the Tigon lived for 13 years from 1936 to 1949. Photo Courtesy of  

There are at least 9 countries which have tigons. These countries include United States of America (USA), China, Russia, Iran, India, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina and Czech Republic. Within these countries many zoos, menageries, animal sanctuaries and circuses own these tigons. Australia also had tigons from 2000 to 2008 at National Zoo and Aquarium in its capital Canberra. Today; United States and China both have significant numbers of tigons at different animal facilities. Taiwan is the only country in the world which has banned crossbreeding of tigers and lions to produce tigons and ligers. Some unconfirmed reports also state that India has also put the ban on hybrids in 1986.

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Tigons are present within 9 countries around the world.
Globally; there are at least nine countries which have tigons. These countries include United States of America (USA), China, Russia, Iran, India, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina and Czech Republic. Photo courtesy of 

When it comes to the sizes of the tigons, they are nothing less than the biggest of the big cat species i.e., lions and tigers. However; unlike ligers, tigons do not have any special attribute associated with them regarding their size. A liger is a hallmark of big size. A male tigon can weigh as much as 450 pounds while a female tigon can weigh around 200 to 300 pounds respectively. Therefore; tigons in terms of their weight, are as big as African lions but they are relatively smaller than Siberian and Bengal tigers. Tigons have a body length of around 8 to 9 feet long which makes them equal in length with lions and again smaller than Siberian tigers which are around 9 to 10+ feet long.

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Tigons are equal in size to that of lions.
In terms of their sizes, tigons are as big as lions but they fail to grow as big as Siberian tigers and the ligers. Photo courtesy of 

Both tigons and ligers have their differences and similarities as well. The biggest difference in between a tigon and a liger is that of a size. A liger weighs well over 800 to 900 pounds, while a tigon weighs around 450 pounds at maximum. A tigon’s fur has stripes with a dark brown skin while a liger has a tawny brown fur with faded stripes over them. Therefore; fur color difference is a key difference in between a tigon and a liger. Both tigons and ligers have spots on their face and they are somewhat identical. Both male tigons and male ligers do have mane (short trimmed mane) around their neck. Some ligers do not have mane at all.

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Tigons have have stripes as well as spots on their fur.
A tigon has a lion like fur with dark stripes over it. These stripes often make elongated oval shapes as well. Apart from that tigons also have facial markings on their head. Photo courtesy of  

There is a common misconception and a myth about tigons that they are subject to dwarfism. Ligerworld.com has studied and observed the growth of about half a dozen tigons globally, and none of them were actually dwarf. Rather all the tigons were as big as lions. If a tigon would have been one fourth of the size of the tiger or a lion, then there would have been a strong probability of considering tigons as being dwarfs. But no such case has been observed so far. There is a huge possibility that some observers might have compared female tigons with male lions and tigers and might have associated the term dwarfism with them.

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Tigons are not subject to dwarfism but rather they are as big as lions.
Tigons in no way are dwarfs. They can grow as big as lions in terms of their sizes, lengths and heights. Photo courtesy of  

USA has more numbers of tigon zoos than any other country in the world. At least 3 zoos in Florida has tigons while many tigons are living in privately held areas across United States. But there are more ligers in USA than the tigons. A possible reason can be that the breeders might be more interested in raising ligers because of their huge size. A tigon named as Rhaja the Tigon, lives at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Course Sanctuary. Similarly; a tigon also lives at Animal Adventures animal sanctuary in Glades County, Florida, USA.

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A tigon lives at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Florida, USA.
A tigon named as Rhaja the Tigon lives at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Florida, USA. Photo courtesy of 

Tigons are also very common within Chinese zoos. At least 6 tigons have been bred over the last few years, at China’s Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Gardens. Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park has also bred at least 11 ligers as well which is a world record. Recently; a female tigon at Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park has given birth to two Li-Tigon cubs as well. The birth of these Li-Tigons is a clear proof that Li-Tigons are not sterile but rather they are fertile (especially the female tigons). Apart from that in 2012, at least 3 tigon cubs were born at Yancheng Safari Park in China’s Changzhou province.

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A tigon cub in China's Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park.
Picture of a tigon cub at Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Gardens in China. Photo courtesy of 

Russia currently has one tigon. The country’s first tigon was born in 2016 at Podolsk region of Moscow. The tigon was not born in a zoo but rather it was born at a circus named as Korona Circus. The name of the lioness which gave birth to the tigon was Sofia the Lioness while its father’s name was Sultan the Tiger. In circuses, they have dozens of lions and tigers and there are higher chances of crossbreeding because often both lions and tigers are kept together. Russia’s Novosibirsk Zoo is also famous for ligers and world’s first liliger were also born at Novosibirsk Zoo.

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Birth of a tigon cub in Russia.
Russia has one Tigon and country's first tigon was born in 2016 at Korona Circus in Moscow, Russia. Photo courtesy of 

Similarly; there are at least 2 tigons (One Male and One Female) in UAE as well which are owned by the Royal Highness of UAE. They have massive enclosures and awesome facilities for tigons and other big cats in Dubai. Famous celebrities such as Vin Diesel has posed special pictures with the tigons in UAE. Some unconfirmed reports also indicate presence of the tigon in India’s Rajasthan region but such reports are yet to be verified. A video has been posted online but still there is no proof that the video has been filmed in Rajasthan area of India.

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Tigon in UAE, Dubai
There are at least 2 tigons in UAE. These two tigons live at the private facility of Dubai's Royal Highness. Photo courtesy of 

Australia has also bred Tigons as well. There were at least 2 tigons at Australia’s Canberra Zoo. Their names were Astor (Male Tigon) and Tangiere. They had dark brown fur with stripes over them. They also had facial markings on their face as well. They looked perfectly normal in the pictures despite the claims from the authorities that tigons are subject to genetic defects etc. Both the tigons were rescued from Ashton circus in 2000. Astor and Tangiere the tigons were given excellent facilities at Australia’s Canberra Zoo. Ashton and Tan lived at Canberra Zoo for about 8 years. They died in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

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Tigon in Australia
Australia also had tigons previously. Above picture is a female tigon named as Tangiere from Australia's Canberra Zoo. Photo courtesy of