Ligers, such as many other hybrid animals, are cute, intelligent and quite unique. In the world, there are numerous hybrids between different species. Most commonly, hybrids can be found in captivity, but it is important to know that hybridization occurs into the wild, as well.
Hybridization can occur involuntarily, actually in some cases being very difficult to distinguish different species from each other. Ligers are hybrids born in captivity, to a lion father and a tigress mother. As lion and tiger populations do not live in the same environment into the wild, they can only breed in captivity.
So, the liger is a cross breed between a female tiger and a male lion. The first liger in history was born in 1824, in Asia. Only in 1935 another liger was born in South Africa. Nowadays, the best known liger in the world is Hercules. Hercules can be visited at Jungle Island, in Florida. This beautiful liger has actually become very famous. He was featured in many television shows, including Good Morning America, The Today Show and 60 minutes. Hercules is the largest cat in the world, weighting nine hundred pounds. He is healthy and beautiful, Hercules having no health problems.
This is actually considered to be a lucky situation, as ligers can be born with birth defects. Most do not survive the first year of life. Some liger cubs die within the first week.
Some specialists claim that birth defects may be caused by the fact that the baby liger is too big to be carried by a tigress. For most female tigers, carrying the big cub can turn out to be extremely difficult.
Actually, there are many speculations on the fact that ligers develop health problems. They are believed to be more vulnerable to a series of diseases than any other big cats and their entire life is linked to various health issues.
Here are some problems associated with ligers:
- The tigress mom most commonly needs a C-Section due to the large size of her baby. Giving birth can be fatal for the tigress.
- Many ligers do not survive more than a few days or weeks after birth.
- Ligers have unstable temperaments, which cannot be predicted.
- Ligers are known to have numerous health problems, caused by genetic abnormalities and neurological defects.
- Ligers are more likely to develop conditions such as cancer and arthritis.
- They have a lifespan shorter than the one of either of their parents.
While some claim that the entire life of a liger is associated with difficulties, others consider that such hypotheses are wrong.
- For instance, even though mortality rates of liger cubs are high, so are the rates of tiger cubs.
- A tigress was able to give birth to 12 ligers in China, while only one of the cubs died. This means that tigresses are able to carry pregnancies with no risks.
- A study has shown that ligers are much healthier than lions. Ligers can live more than lions and tigers, the best example being a female liger who lived no less than 24 years in captivity.
- The speculation that ligers have a weaker heart is just a myth. In fact, there are no health issues that can only be associated to ligers. It is impossible to say that ligers tend to live shorter than lions or tigers due to their severe health problems. And the best example is Hercules.
The topic on ligers health problems remains a controversial one, so opinions are shared. Despite the health issues that ligers may or may not be suffering from, this is an amazing species. Ligers are the biggest and most impressive cats in the world.