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Explaining Big Cat Hybrids

We all know and admire the majesty of the lion, as well as the regal presence of the tiger and the menacing growl of the jaguar. What you may not know is that these huge cats, when grown together, sometimes find mates in each other and produce a large variety of big cat hybrids, each with its own character, physical shape and size. These are all beautiful, proud and powerful animals, and are well worth knowing.

types of big cat hybrids

Introducing the liger. For those who aren't familiar with this amazing beast, it is the result of a male lion mating with a female tiger. This usually only happens in captivity. Ligers are very social creatures and they seem to get along both with lions and tigers. They also show real affection towards their human handlers. According to many handlers, ligers are bigger, stronger and usually healthier than either parent. 


types of big cat hybrids

This is Hercules, he should perhaps be called 'King of the Cats' because he is, in fact, the biggest cat in the world, weighing over 1,100 lbs (about half a ton). 


types of big cat hybrids

A male liger.


types of big cat hybrids

Top photo, left to right: A tiger, a liger and a lion side by side. You can clearly see that the stripes of the tiger are more 'washed out' on the liger, and that he has a fur color that is midway between the parents.
Left to right at the bottom: A liger cub and a huge grown liger. 


types of big cat hybrids

Tigons (or tiglons) are the opposite of ligers, they are cats whose fathers are tigers and whose mothers are lionesses. They are more rare than ligers are, often carry marks from both parents, and unlike the ligers, are usually no bigger than their parents. They usually weigh about 400 lb (180 kilos). 


types of big cat hybrids

At the Alipore Zoo in India, a female tiglon named Rudhrani, born in 1971, was successfully mated with an Asiatic Lion named Debabrata. The rare, second generation hybrid was called a litigon. Rudhrani produced seven litigons in her lifetime. Some of these reached impressive sizes — a litigon named Cubanacan (died 1991) weighed at least 363 kilograms (800 lb), stood 1.32 meters (4.3 ft) at the shoulder, and was 3.5 metres (11 ft) in total length.


types of big cat hybrids

Leopons are hybrids resulting from the crossing of a male leopard with a lioness. The head of the animal is similar to that of a lion while the rest of the body resembles that of a leopard. These hybrids are produced in captivity and are unlikely to occur in the wild.


types of big cat hybrids

A jaglion is, as the name hints, a cross between a jaguar and a lion. This one is a beautiful cat, a female called Jahzara that born in Canada. Her father was a jaguar and her mother a lioness. She is the black cat in the photos. The brighter colored jaglion is Tsunami, and they have grown together as cubs.


types of big cat hybrids

A baby liliger namd Kiara. The liliger is a hybrid cross between a male lion and a ligress (hybrid of tiger and lion). Kiara was born to 8-year-old female liger Zita and male African lion Samson. Male tiglons and ligers are sterile, but female hybrids can produce cubs.


types of big cat hybrids

Kiara was the first liliger known to exist. She is described as a calm, confident and strong animal.


types of big cat hybrids

These lion cubs seem to have no fear of their roaring father, despite his menacing jaws. Adult male lions usually weigh between 330-550 lb (150-250 kg). 


types of big cat hybrids

'I think I have a headache..'


types of big cat hybrids

The white lion is not a distinct subspecies, but a special genetic mutation. It has a genetic condition, leucism, that causes paler coloration, akin to that of the white tiger. This condition is similar to melanism. They are not albinos, having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin. 

 
types of big cat hybrids

White Lioness.

 
types of big cat hybrids

Baby white lion cubs. 

 
types of big cat hybrids

Letsai, a regal white lion. 

And just in case you got confused from all these hybrids, here's a handy chart to break it down more clearly:

types of big cat hybrids
 
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