Although they may be beautiful, unique, and captivating, these striped and maned creatures are testimony to the cruelty of human involvement in taking creatures from their natural habitat. What creatures am I referring to? I am talking about Ligers (lion fathered and tigress mothered) and Tiglons (tiger fathered and lioness mothered). Ligers tend to be a little bit larger than their parents of either species, whereas tiglons are usually the same size of a tigress. In fact, the liger is the largest cat in the world. The lack of regulated genes, which would normally be controlled by genetic imprinting, or genes expressed in a parent-of-origin-dependent manner, is absent in some genes when breeding different species together. But if they are such a fascinating anomaly, why is it so bad for these two species to breed?
Firstly, they would NEVER breed NATURALLY in the WILD! Lions are located mainly in Africa (and the Middle East) whereas tigers are native to Asia. This means that individuals are taking them away from their homes in the wild and forcing them to interact with one another. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult for the mother to carry such abnormally large cubs.
Secondly and equally as importantly, these hybrid offspring have reduced viability. Their health is usually fragile, and very few actually make it to adulthood. Those that do make it to adulthood rarely live past 7 years old, and almost certainly none of them can ever be released back into the wild.
So why do people breed them even though they are fully aware of the consequences? Come now, you must know the answer: MONEY!
Ligers are magnificent creatures (if they survive long enough for someone to see them). They tend to have a gentle golden base colour adorned with black, lush brown, or peachy-coloured rosette markings inherited from their lion father. Gentle stripes are sometimes inherited from their mother. Siberian white tigers, another unnatural anomaly that barely exists in nature, can be bred with lions to produce very pale ligers. This last hybrid, which is often crueler than even breeding a normal Bengal tiger due to the many mutations associated with Siberian tigers, brings in even more capital to the breeder.
Tiglons look quite different from ligers. They usually are a dark sandy colour with light spots and more prominent stripes from their father. Their manes are usually reduced.
What can you do to stop this? Boycott organizations that breed them! You could even protest against these breeders! Avoid zoos that endorse their hybrids (not zoos that kindly take them in). Even contact your government to ensure there are regulations to breeding them! These creatures sometimes are even abandoned because they are not well understood. Big Cat Rescue even reached out “a paw” in 2008 to take in a liger, Freckles, whose health was only improved with vigilant veterinary guidance but who remains skittish and uncertain of her surroundings. Freckles, when they found her in a backyard “sanctuary” in Mississippi, had a hole in her jaw along with all of her canine teeth missing due to chewing on her cage.
It is one thing to take a creature out of the wild. It is another to breed it and condemn its offspring to poor health, confinement, and alienation to any species because neither tiglons nor ligers are a true species; they are hybrids of unnatural beauty. You can help the fight and stop the breeding of hybrids by keeping their parents in the wild!