Hybrid animals do not just exist in mythology. They are alive and well, walking the earth as we speak. But most hybrids don’t occur naturally and are a result of human intervention.
If you’re a fan of big cats, you will probably be fascinated by the liger, which is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger.
Ligers have faint tiger stripes from their mothers, and males usually inherit manes from their dads, although the hair isn’t as long and thick.
They also like to swim, like tigers, and are sociable creatures, like lions. Ligers tend to grow bigger than either of their parents, arguably making them the largest known cats in the world. Male ligers can reach lengths of 10 to 12 feet.
Additionally, they weigh significantly more than any lion or tiger. In 2013, Guinness World Records deemed a male liger named Hercules as the world’s largest cat.
Hercules’ home was at the Myrtle Beach Safari Wildlife Reserve in South Carolina. He weighed 922 pounds, measured 131 inches, and stood at 49 inches.
What’s more, ligers are incredibly fast, running speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, and they live relatively long lives.
For instance, a female liger named Shasta lived until she was 24. She was born in 1948 at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was the first American liger.
So, when did lion and tiger hybrids first come to be? The liger can be traced back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries in India.