Ligers are the result of mating a male lion with a female tiger. Many people have heard about ligers, but few know what a “liliger” is. A Russian zoo has recently released photos of a “liliger”, the offspring of a lion father and a liger mother. The “liliger” is named Kiara.
The cub is very cute and was born at Novosibirsk Zoo, being the only liliger in existence. The term “liliger” has been unknown also to Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Centre at the University of Minnesota. No matter how nice is the cub, liligers are not relevant for big-cat conservation, he said.
Packer explained that all ligers are born in captivity because they don’t exist in the wild. Lion and tiger populations are separated by geography and there are also a few mechanisms that prevent the two species from mating in the natural world.
Packer added: “If a tiger tried to mate with a female lion it would be chased away by the other lions pretty fast, and vice versa. Lions and tigers are separated by about seven million years of evolution, but they are still closely enough related that they can hybridize.”
He also said that Kiara, the world’s first liliger, would be very mixed up in the natural world because “lions are genetically predisposed to be very sociable and cooperative. Tigers are genetically predisposed to be very ornery and solitary.”
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting body for zoos in North America doesn’t approve zoos that keep ligers. Craig Packer claims that modern zoos should focus on wildlife-conservation programs.
Related to conservation, he said: “It’s so far away from anything, it’s kind of pointless to even say it’s irrelevant.” On one hand, those people who have heard about Kiara are amazed and they find it very cute. On the other hand, there are others who believe this is a way of exploiting animals.
Watch Kiara here: