What do you get when you cross a lion and a tiger?

Image: Aleksey Shilin / Wikimedia Commons Meet the world’s largest feline: the liger

While ligers are certainly something to marvel at, you’ll never find one outside of a zoo: They’re a man-made hybrid cross between a male lion and a tiger, something that would never occur in the wild

Ligers resemble a striped lion

They tend to inherit tawny brown fur from their lion fathers and dark stripes from their tiger mothers

As a result of this union between the tiger, the largest and heaviest feline, and the lion, the second largest, ligers tend to be much larger and heavier than their parents

In fact, the largest feline in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records is a liger named Hercules, weighing 922 pounds and measuring 11 feet long and 4 feet at the shoulder

At 922 pounds (4182 kilograms) and 11 feet (333 meters) long and 4 feet (125 meters) tall at the shoulder, it is considered the world’s largest living feline

Photo by Ali West

Like many other unnatural hybrids, ligers often die in the womb or prematurely

They also suffer from a variety of inconvenient genetic defects and diseases associated with both lions and tigers, such as neurological problems, cancer, arthritis and organ failure

Hkandy photo

For these reasons, plus the lack of conservation value and the threat to the mother tiger during birth, ligers are off-limits in most zoos and animal refuges; and those who choose to breed the animals are frowned upon by big cat conservationists around the world

Watch the video below to see a liger in motion: The liger is just one of many amazing hybrid species

Click here to learn about 20 more amazing hybrid animals


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