Liger Facts

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Where do Ligers Come From?

Irresponsible breeders is the short answer.

A liger is the result of breeding a male lion to a tigress. A tigon is the result of breeding a male tiger to a lioness. Since lions and tigers do not exist in the same areas, this is not something that happens in the wild. It is done in captivity by disreputable carnies to produce a freak that ignorant people will pay to see. These cats suffer from many birth defects and usually die young. Because ligers are usually larger than either parent, it also puts the tigress at great risk in carrying the young and may require C-section deliveries or kill her in the process. When the public quits paying to see these unfortunate creatures, the evil people responsible for breeding them will stop this inhumane practice.

You can stop the abuse. Don't support places, like T.I.G.E.R.S. and Jungle Island, that breed ligers. Bhagavan Antle who calls himself Doc Antle, the person you will most often see promoting this shameful practice, has gone to great lengths to stop us and the brave young girl who created the video at the bottom of the page, from letting you know the truth. Visit her YouTube site HERE and let her know you appreciate what she is doing to prevent the future breeding of ligers and tigons.

When you see ligers in the news or on TV, write the station and let the reporters know the truth about hybrids. You can send 5 letters at once to the media of your choice through our online email system at

What does a liger look like?

Actually they aren't this dramatic.  See real photos of ligers below.

Find out more about Big Cat Rescue's liger and tiger rescue.

Read about the conviction of those involved in canned hunts in the US. They excuse their behavior by making the case that ligers and tigons are not protected by the Endangered Species Act. Now you know why so many of these sleazy back yard breeders are trying to produce more of them.


Video by a Big Cat AdvoCat. Visit her site:

Liger PhotoThe following story attempts to make it sound like there could be some reason to breed lions and tigers for public amusement, but anyone who cares about animals knows that this is a despicable thing to do because the cats have to spend their lives in deprivation and confinement and are genetically so unhealthy that they usually die young. The ONLY reason anyone breeds ligers is to create a freak that simple minded people will pay to see.

Ligers Make a "Dynamite" Leap Into the Limelight

by: Maryann Mott August 5, 2005

It's half lion, half tiger, and completely real. Now thanks to a cameo in the 2004 cult movie Napoleon Dynamite, the liger has leaped into the limelight, prompting fans to ask, What are they really like?

The faintly striped, shaggy-maned creatures are the offspring of male lions and female tigers, which gives them the ability to both roar like lions and chuff like tigers-a supposedly affectionate sound that falls somewhere between a purr and a raspberry.

Weighing in at about a thousand pounds (450 kilograms) each, they typically devour 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of raw meat in a meal.

"For the most part they're really laid back," said Jason Hutcherson, vice president of Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain , Georgia . "They like to swim and play in the water."

The drive-through wildlife park is believed to have the country's largest concentration of ligers, housing ten of the massive cats.

Since 1999 the park has bred its male lion and female tiger many times, producing about 24 cubs.

Not all of them have been healthy, though.

LIger Picture"We've had 3 out of 24 that, for all practical purposes, were normal but developed as they grew older some kind of neurological disorder," Hutcherson said.

Autopsies didn't reveal what caused the cubs to develop "head shakes," so park staff "chalked it up to a genetic defect," Hutcherson said.

Accredited zoos frown on the practice of mixing two different species and have never bred ligers, says Jane Ballentine, a spokesperson for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, based in Silver Spring , Maryland.

"Keeping the two species separate has always been standard procedure," she said.

Wild Ligers?

Long before fans heard Napoleon claim that the liger is "pretty much my favorite animal," there have been rumors of the hybrid's existence in the wild.

Lion-tiger mating occurs in captivity. But it does not happen in the wild, probably for the same reason humans do not breed with gorillas or chimps.

"Crossing the species line" does not generally occur in the wild, because "it would result in diminished fitness of the offspring," said Ronald Tilson, director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.

Geography is another obstacle to natural lion-tiger mating. Wild tigers mainly inhabit Asia, whereas the lion's current natural habitat is almost entirely in Africa.

The Gir National Forest in India is the only place in the world where tiger and lion ranges overlap, fueling speculation that wild ligers roamed the area hundreds of years ago.

Tilson doesn't believe it.

"This would be highly improbable, because the Gir forest is really very dry and not optimal tiger habitat," he said.

A Liger Named Patrick

Perched on the edge of the Mojave Desert near Los Angeles , California , a lone liger, named Patrick, lives at Shambala Preserve, which bills itself as "a haven for endangered exotic big cats."

"The interesting thing about these animals is that they have the best qualities of the tiger and the best of the lion," said movie actress and conservationist Tippi Hedren, who has run Shambala since 1972. "Those qualities manifest themselves in the fact that they like to be in the water [a tiger trait] and are very social [a lion trait]."

Many of the cats at the 80-acre (32-hectare) sanctuary are orphans or castoffs from circuses, zoos, and private owners who could no longer care for the animals.

ShambalaPatrick arrived at the sanctuary seven years ago after federal authorities shutdown the roadside zoo in Illinois where he lived.

The 800-pound (360-kilogram) liger was kept in such a small cage that his hind-leg muscles had started to atrophy, said Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.

Patrick's compound at Shambala allows him plenty of room for exercise. A stream runs through his compound, so his tiger half can play in the water or his lion half can stay out of it, whichever he chooses.

Liger in the Hills

Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Spearfish, South Dakota , recently acquired a liger named Samson and 48 other big cats after federal authorities closed a Minnesota wildlife facility.

"Everyone who comes wants to see Samson," said Trevor Smith, an environmental biologist and sanctuary board member.

The four-and-a-half-year-old hybrid tips the scales at over a thousand pounds (over 450 kilograms), and eats 30 to 50 pounds (14 to 23 kilograms) of raw meat every other day.

Liger at Big Cat Rescue

"Samson is really picky. He'll only eat beef, elk, and venison," Smith said. "We try and feed him chicken, like the other animals, but he won't touch it. He'll let it rot in the sun."

The sanctuary-whose mission is to educate people about wild animals and emphasize that they don't make good pets-has seen a surge in visitors since Samson's arrival in June.

Much of the public's curiosity about the liger stems from Napoleon Dynamite, Smith said.

Smith worries that Samson is "becoming too much of a freak show."

If Samson had his way, Smith said, he'd sleep away the day inside, away from public view. 

"We've had a huge ethical debate at the sanctuary on whether or not we should lock him out of his shed," Smith said. "But at the same time, he's why the visitors are coming."

Tigons and Ti-tigons

A tigon is the product of a male tiger and female lion. They receive growth inhibitor genes from both parents and so are smaller than either of them. They show much the same coloration of ligers except they sometimes have more distinct stripes. As with ligers the females are fertile whereas the males are sterile. They have the same vocalizations as liger, a sort of cross between lion and tiger. Ti-tigons speak tiger. Tigons are now rarer than ligers, but in the late 1800's/early 1900's tigons were more common.

Meet our past liger friend Freckles 

This lion and tiger had been raised together for the bad purpose of creating ligers.  The female was spayed and the male got a vasectomy upon arrival to Big Cat Rescue to ensure there would be no "accidents."

Ligers in the News



View "Liger" on Spundge

Big Cat Rescue does not condone the breeding of ligers.  These news stories are posted so that you can help us educate people as to why it is cruel to breed ligers and tigons.

Leave a Reply


This post currently has 40 responses.

    • LaWanna Mitchell

      May 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      We all need to be more aware of the footprint we each leave on the enviroment… they all add up.

  1. Jake Bennett

    February 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Judging by this article. This situation is quite serious. Why on earth are people so stupid to breed tigers and lions together even for "commercial" purposes or any purpose is ridiculous. It's a good thing you are encouraging a clamping down on this practice and repudiating it.

  2. Lisa Parkinson

    April 9, 2013 at 5:07 am

    people should quit breeds Tigers & loins…why do that…I did'nt know there was such a thing as a ligor…& another thing that needs 2 STOP is mistreating Tigers & Lions…they can't speak out so WE the PEOPLE HAVE 2…come on people…

  3. Moni Chea

    June 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    While I am oppose to the commercial breeding of this animal or any animal for the sole purpose of sport/entertainment, I find this article questionable despite the good intentions. The liger is a hybrid that is NOT born sterile which is highly unusual for hybrid species produced in captivity which leads many scientists to believe that there was a possibility at one time long ago when geography and man was not an obstacle for these animals to breed. It isn't uncommon in evolutionary cycles for animals of subspecies to breed for survival. It should also be noted that hybrids…mutts in general tend to be HEALTHIER because of the varied gene pool. Just look at purebred dogs and cats and the genetic health risks that come along with many of the breeds. As for the existing ligers, they should definitely be protected by law. But seeing the near extinction of both tiger and lion species in the future, perhaps we can learn something from ligers after all.

    • Kenni

      January 10, 2019 at 7:02 am

      Wow, quite a lot wrong with this comment.
      Only female ligers are not sterile, male ligers are. So clearly they can’t continue breeding among each other to continue as a real species without hybridizing again.
      Mixed breed dogs are NOT hybrids, all dog breeds belong to the same species. Same with cats and cat breeds. So it’s not the same thing by a long shot. A german shepherd and a border collie are both members of the same exact species, so breeding them together does not make a hybrid. You’ve just made a dog with a bit more genetic variation. It’s still just a dog, and nothing else.
      And yeah, they used to breed together; because they share a common ancestor and were once only a single species. That’s just how evolution works. The same applies to humans and apes, that doesn’t mean humans should do the nasty with apes.

  4. PJ Grima

    June 22, 2013 at 4:09 am

    It should be noted that big cats (like all cats) are stimulation ovulators. What this means, is that while the female goes into heat whenever their cycle normally dictates, they do not ovulate (release eggs) unless stimulated by certain events in the act of mating, meaning that the animals in question have to both first be amicable to the mating (a female that wants none of it could easily fend of a male, even in the case of tigons). Artificial insemination is not possible with big cats, other wise it would be far easier for zoos to bring their numbers back up. That being said, it is irresponsible for those who know of the possibility of cross-breeding to have tigers and lions (or any multiple species mixes for that matter) in the same pens together and not have them neutered or spayed. If the intention of having multiple animals in one pen is breeding, it should only be with members of the same species, so as build up numbers (they ARE endangered after all).
    There are a few 'facts' in the is articular which I believe may be less well researched than the author thinks, despite good intentions.

  5. Shellz Bellz

    July 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    MMM Well I thought these animals were stunningly beautiful and I would of paid top dollar to see them close up. I would of been in the front row watching them but now after seeing this Video that's has all changed Well done to the lady who made it.. She definitely change my outlook on these BIG Cats… SO now I need to know "Why do they keep breeding these Cats cant they be stopped" as this is Animal Cruelty, if what she is saying is correct, all the defects in these Cats should be enough for animal welfare groups to pounce on them all. Next thing we will all be having Designer Babies scary stuff alright.

  6. Jonathan Thomas

    August 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    wow I almost cried when I saw the video. It's a terrible thing when people forcibly make some special kind of breed only for profit and experimentation. I learned that Ligers AND Tigons are a very serious matter. I never knew how tigress' could die of childbirth. Wow it's more about how ligers look, but it's their life that really counts.
    PS: Anyone know the beautiful piano music in "Ligers: A Cruelty Unveiled"?

  7. Glenna T-j

    August 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    People have been doing it to dogs and cats for hundreds of years… for example, a Shar Pei must have a C-section because the pups are bred to have large heads; so large, she can't give natural birth. I'm all for protecting Tigers and Lions, don't get me wrong. And this does need to stop. I just wanted to point out, that it is no more cruel than what we do to our best furry friends in our homes.

    • LoudAmerican

      June 26, 2015 at 8:38 am

      That is not a solid fact
      We have Shar Pei in our family (in our home)
      FYI: If you saw a Bone Mouth Shar Pei
      bet most people would not know what it is and that it is a more true to form Shar Pei

  8. Betty Ann Gandy

    November 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I think its terrible! GOD created this world & if he wanted these animals to breed they'd done it in the wild! CRUEL CRUEL PEOPLE!!! I'm definitely NOT amused, this is SICK!!! Poor animals. Ppl trying to play GOD!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!! 🙁

  9. Rob Minor

    August 24, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    "for the same reason humans do not breed with gorillas or chimps."

    It is impossible for humans to interbreed with simians. A more accurate analogy is white and black people interbreeding and producing mullatos, but it's racist to criticise that.

    • Kenni

      January 10, 2019 at 6:54 am

      That isn’t more accurate at all. White and black people are members of the exact same species. The most similar thing to that is different dog breeds interbreeding (which are also of the same species) to produce mixed breeds which are often more healthy than purebreds. So yeah you’re racist for insinuating people of a different race are of a different species.

      Either you’re racist or you need to take a science class, please fix whichever one it is.

  10. LoudAmerican

    June 26, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Why are so many people so shocked about these inter breeds?
    Man constantly tries to play a god in our lives

  11. Cat Camp

    February 2, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    “The ONLY reason anyone breeds ligers is to create a freak that simple minded people will pay to see.” Although I agree wholeheartedly that breeding these hybrid animals is VERY wrong, I must ask you to rewrite this part of your article. Not everybody who has had a glimpse of into the existance of such a unusual animal & has an interest in seeing one live is simple minded. They have not been educated on why this practice is so bad. In the same way, many people will still pay money to hold a baby tiger, to swim with it or take photos with them. That does NOT make them BAD people; sometimes it’s just people who have not “seen the light” yet.

  12. Valeria Minnick

    February 6, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I did not like that the article started by saying that disreputable carnies breed these. Like the carnies were the sole cause of breeding these animals. Much further down in the article it list the animals come from the Circus, Zoo, and Private Owners. It is not solely carnies. Also, circus people are NOT most carnies. Carnies are usually working for Carnivals. Most carnivals do NOT have animals. If they do it is because an independent owner booked in with the fair board (ran by the city, county, or state) they are having the fair in. I have never seen or heard of a FAIR breeding any kind of animal.

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