How did the smilodon breed

This article covers the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. For the German-language name of the French river, see Loire.
This liger has both a small lion's mane and weak tiger stripes.

Liger are hybrids that result from the cross of a male lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris) emerge. There is no scientific name of the mixed form, one possible name is Panthera leo x tigris. The term "liger" is a suitcase word that is derived from the names of the parent animals. The biological counterpart to the Liger is the Tion (Tigon), which is the descendant of a male tiger and a lioness.

Ligers are not found in the wild, but are bred in captivity. Male animals are sterile so that reproduction is not possible, which is why ligers are not a species of their own. In terms of appearance and behavior, they have both lion and tiger characteristics. What is striking about Ligers is their size, which puts them in a row with the largest cat species in the history of the earth and also exceeds other big cat hybrids.



A liger with his animal trainer

Ligers reach a total length of 3 to 3.5 meters,[1][2] with which they reach the size of very large Siberian tiger males.[3] Their weight can exceed 350 kilograms. This sometimes makes ligers heavier than their parents: in individual cases (especially in captivity) male lions or tigers can weigh more than 300 kilograms, but still lag behind the maximum body weight of a liger.

If you use extinct big cats for comparison, the liger is comparable to the American lion, the Mosbacher lion or the saber-toothed cat Smilodon populator. The weight of the latter is estimated at 220-360 kilograms.[4] The Guinness Book of Records recognizes the liger Hercules at a height of 3.3 meters and a weight of over 400 kilograms as the largest cat in the world.[5] The largest credibly transmitted value for the total length of a Siberian tiger is 350 cm over curves (measured over all body curves). The animal was shot in northeast China in 1943[3]


Two ligers with orange fur

The appearance of individual ligers can differ greatly from one another and reflects different characteristics of the parent species. Some of the male ligers have a mane that is weaker than that of lions and starts higher in the forehead.[1] Sometimes male ligers have no mane at all. Other ligers have whiskers like tigers.[2]

The basic color of the fur is either sand-colored like the lion or orange like the tiger. The fur is streaked with light stripes, which are particularly pronounced on the back of the body. In addition, the stripes can partially merge into spots. The ligers' light peritoneum comes from the tiger side. They have a black tip of the tail, but usually the lion's tassel is missing.[1]


One female (left) and one male liger (right)

Ligers show behavior from both lions and tigers. Occasionally, there are contradictions due to the different lifestyles of the two types of parents.[2]

Lions live in packs, while tigers are solitary animals. Especially with female leagues, there is therefore a conflict between being a socially integrated member of a group or being isolated. In contrast to lions, ligers like to swim and thus adopt a preference from tigers.[2] The hybrid can articulate itself in the form of either parent, roaring like a lion or making "puff" sounds like a tiger.

As with all hybrid species, the behavior of the young animal, if it is based on the type of the father, can cause stress in the mother in individual cases.

Hybrid formation


In order for a liger to emerge from the cross between the two largest cat species, it is crucial that the lion be male and the tiger female. The reverse combination results in a tigon, which has different characteristics.

Ligers are not found in the wild because their natural habitats do not currently overlap. This also applies to the subspecies Asiatic lion and Bengal tiger, both of which are found in India.[6] Even so, descriptions of wild cats that could apply to ligers have existed for centuries. In the past, lions and tigers also lived in much larger areas of distribution, so that at least the external conditions for a meeting in the wild were given. Yet there is no evidence of the existence of ligers outside of human attitudes.[6]

Due to the different social behavior of the two species, mating would be difficult if they met by chance in nature. In captivity, the reproductive instinct of the big cats can mean that they are more willing to mate with alien individuals.


A young liger in the Novosibirsk Zoo (2005)

Even if the lion and tiger differ from the other cat species in terms of their size, they are not as closely related to one another as the lion, leopard and jaguar. The tiger separated itself from the other species of the genus almost four million years ago Panthera.[7] The genetic combination with a lion is therefore difficult.

Lion and tiger can produce offspring together, but their reproduction is restricted. In contrast to many other hybrid varieties, female ligers are mostly fertile. Male animals, on the other hand, are always sterile.[6] Ligers therefore cannot reproduce with one another. In order to produce new individuals, lions and tigers must be permanently crossed. However, a cross between female ligers and male gulls is also possible. This crossing is informally referred to as Tölig (English Tilon). Tölige can reproduce with each other, but the habitats between male and female specimens do not overlap.

Female ligers can have offspring with male lions or tigers. Your offspring then correspond to three-quarters of the type of the father. Unofficial names for these hybrid forms are Li-Liger or Panthera leo x (leo x tigris) or Ti-Liger or Panthera tigris x (leo x tigris). A Li-Liger named Kiara was born in Novosibirsk Zoo in September 2012 and is the first of its kind, according to the daily newspaper taz.[8]


Naive depiction of a mixed cat family (19th century)

The hybrid formation of big cats in zoos or circuses is partly due to ignorance. Since the 19th century, the formation of ligers was carried out according to plan in order to attract attractions. Carl Hagenbeck bred several big cat hybrids for his animal show.

Crossing lions and tigers is not without risk, as both the offspring and the mother can be harmed.[9] Ligers are more likely to develop birth defects and die early. The size of the liger babies can be dangerous to the tigress at birth and may require a c-section.

Much like white lions and tigers, ligers bring visitors to zoos and animal parks. From the standpoint of species conservation, however, breeding such special forms does not make sense.[1] Several big cat subspecies are threatened with extinction, so the resources of zoos and the lions and tigers kept there are required to reproduce these species.[10]

Individual evidence

  1. 1,01,11,21,3Description of ligers on
  2. 2,02,12,22,3Description of ligers on
  3. 3,03,1Vratislav Mazák: The Tiger. Westarp Sciences; Edition: 5 (April 2004), unchanged. 1983 edition ISBN 3-89432-759-6
  4. ↑ Per Christiansen and John M. Harris: Body Size of Smilodon (Mammalia: Felidae). JOURNAL OF MORPHOLOGY 266: 369-384 (2005)
  5. ↑ website of Jungle Island
  6. 6,06,16,2Explanations on the breeding and reproduction of ligers on
  7. BBC- Report on the evolutionary development of the genus Panthera
  8. ^ "Li-Liger"; taz, the daily newspaper, issue September 20, 2012
  9. ↑ Critical side towards the breeding of ligers
  10. ↑ website

Web links

 Commons: Liger - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
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 Wiktionary: Liger - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations