Part lion, part tiger - Liger

Thursday, February 28, 2008 |
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Hercules, a mammoth sized cat called a liger, which is a cross between a male lion that mated with a female tiger lives in Miami Zoo.

It is said ligers are the largest of the known cat species. They can usually grow to over 900 pounds and stand as tall as 12 feet on their back haunches. Ligers are only known to occur among big cats in captivity, although mythology includes stories of giant cats that once roamed the forests near Singapore during the days when the area was known as the home of lions.

Such mating would be extremely rare in nature since lions are native to Africa and most tigers are in Asia. When the two species come in contact with each other in the wild, they are natural enemies and attempt to kill one another.

Putting these big cats together in captivity, however, apparently creates a different effect. Hercules is not the only liger in the world. Not only that, but male tigers have been known to breed with female lions, thus producing another odd creature known as a tigon.

Tigons are very different from ligers because they are dwarfs instead of giants. A fully grown tigon is usually no more than 350 pounds.

Hercules is an unusual cat. He can run at speeds of up to 50-miles-per-hour and he enjoys swimming, something lions and most cats will not do. Also ligers are not sterile and can reproduce.

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