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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liger ... Lion + Tiger

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The 10ft Liger who's still growing...

He looks like something from a prehistoric age or a fantastic

creation from Hollywood . But Hercules is very much living flesh and blood -

as he proves every time he opens his gigantic mouth to roar. Part lion, part

tiger, he is not just a big cat but a huge one, standing 10ft tall on his

back legs. Called a liger, in reference to his crossbreed parentage, he is

the largest of all the cat species.

On a typical day he will devour 20lb of meat, usually beef or

chicken, and is capable of eating 100lb at a single setting. At just three

years old, Hercules already weighs half a ton.




He is the accidental result of two enormous big cats living close

together at the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, in Miami ,

Florida , and already dwarfs both his parents.

"Ligers are not something we planned on having," said institute owner

Dr Bhagavan Antle. "We have lions and tigers living together in large

enclosures and at first we had no idea how well one of

the lion boys was getting along with a tiger girl, then loo and behold

we had a liger."



50mph runner... Not only that, but he likes to swim, a feat unheard

of among water-fearing lions. In the wild it is virtually impossible for

lions and tigers to mate. Not only are they enemies likely to kill one

another, but most lions are in Africa and most tigers in Asia . But

incredible though he is, Hercules is not unique. Ligers have been bred in

captivity, deliberately and accidentally, since shortly before World War II.




Today there are believed to be a handful of ligers around the world

and a similar number of tigons, the product of a tiger father and lion

mother. Tigons are smaller than ligers and take on more physical

characteristics of the tiger.
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