Ligers, The Biggest Cats in the World |
(Image above is of a 2x6 inch bookmark offered free with any purchase)
Ligers are the offspring of male lions and female tigers. They rarely (if ever) occur in the wild, as the ranges of lions and tigers seldom overlap; but in zoos and wild animal preserves cross-species mating has occurred, resulting in hybrids — ligers or less frequently, tigons (whose parents are male tigers and female lions). Body forms and striping/spotting vary considerably, with some ligers looking more tiger-like and others more lion-like (see Pictures of Ligers).
Ligers' behavior is a mixture of lion-like and tiger-like behavior. Like tigers (and unlike lions and most other cats), ligers love to be in water; and their "vocabulary" is a mixture of tiger-like chuffs and lion-like roars.
Ligers can grow to immense size. The growth-regulating genes in lions are contributed by the female, and in tigers by the male. Not having these genes, 3 to 4 year old ligers are usually half again as large as full-grown lions or tigers; and by the time they stop growing, around 7, the biggest ligers may be twice the size of lions or tigers, weigh 900 to 1500 pounds, and reach 12 feet in height when standing on their hind legs. Needless to say, such immense animals require a tremendous amount of food to maintain their weight. If ligers existed in the wild, they might easily eat 100 pounds of meat at a sitting, but since all ligers exist in captivity, they are relatively sedentary, and tend to get fat on such a diet. According to the T.I.G.E.R.s site (see Pictures of Ligers for a discussion of and links to their site), 25 pounds of meat a day is an adequate diet for their ligers.
Ligers have unusually docile dispositions, but because of their huge size are very dangerous and must be handled with care; even a moment's carelessness can have fatal consequences. It was for this reason that the Erindale liger, Kat's Bane, was created. Combining the dramatic coloring of a tiger with the broad nose and baleful eyes of a lion, the image conveys the mystery and menace that would surely be attendant upon meeting such a fantastic creature in the wild.