Liger facts for kids

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Liger
Female (left) and male (right) ligers at Everland amusement park in South Korea.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: Panthera leo × Panthera tigris

The liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris). The liger has parents in the same genus but of different species. The liger is distinct from the similar hybrid tigon, and is the largest of all known extant felines. They enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tigons.

Appearance

1799-liger
Colour of the offspring of a lion and tiger

Ligers have a tiger-like striped pattern that is very faint upon a tawny background. In addition, they may inherit rosettes from the lion parent (lion cubs are rosetted and some adults retain faint markings). These markings may be black, dark brown or sandy. The background colour may be correspondingly tawny, sandy or golden. In common with tigers, their underparts are pale. The actual pattern and colour depend on which subspecies the parents were and on how the genes interact in the offspring.

White tigers have been crossed with lions to produce "white" (actually pale golden) ligers. In theory, white tigers could be crossed with white lions to produce white, very pale or even stripeless ligers. There are no black ligers. It is not impossible for a liger to be white, but it is very rare.

The liger is often believed to represent the largest known cat in the world. Males reach a total length of 3 to 3.6 m (9.8 to 11.8 ft), which means that they rival even large male lions and tigers in length.

History

Liger portrait
Liger face

The history of lion-tiger hybrids dates to at least the early 19th century in India. In 1798, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772–1844) made a colour plate of the offspring of a lion and a tiger. The name "liger" was coined by the 1930s.

In 1825, G. B. Whittaker made an engraving of liger cubs born in 1824. The parents and their three liger offspring are also depicted with their trainer in a 19th-century painting.

Two liger cubs born in 1837 were exhibited to King William IV and to his successor Queen Victoria. On 14 December 1900 and on 31 May 1901, Carl Hagenbeck wrote to zoologist James Cossar Ewart with details and photographs of ligers born at the Hagenbeck's Tierpark in Hamburg in 1897.

Records

Ligers
Ligers laying down

Hercules, the largest non-obese liger, is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest living cat on Earth, weighing 418.2 kg (922 lb). Hercules was featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360, Inside Edition, and in a Maxim article in 2005, when he was only three years old and already weighed 408.25 kg (900 lb). Hercules is healthy and is expected to live a long life. The cat's breeding is said to have been a complete accident.

Valley of the Kings animal sanctuary in Wisconsin had a male liger who weighed over 550 kg (1,213 lb).

Images for kids


Liger Facts for Kids. Homework Help - Kiddle Encyclopedia.