Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Big Cat Hybrids

When Big Cats happen to mingle, they can sometimes mate and produce a wide variety of hybrids.
The reasons hybrids exist vary from profit, to scientific research to accidental, but rare, work of nature.

Here are some interesting Big Cat facts and photos.

Four of the five living species of the Panthera genus — the lion (P. leo), jaguar (P. onca), leopard
(P. pardus), and tiger (P. tigris) — may produce a number of hybrid crosses. Due to its isolated
habitat and lack of cross-breeding data of captive specimens, the fifth member of the genus, the
snow leopard (P. uncia), is usually kept out of the equation.

The ability to hybridise is partly associated with how closely species are related to each other.

According to nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analysis, tigers are more closely related to snow
leopards than to lions, leopards and jaguars. Lions, leopards and jaguars are more closely related
to each other than to tigers.

The common ancestors of lions, leopards and jaguars split from other cats around 4.3 to 3.8
million years ago; while the common ancestors of tigers and snow leopards evolved around
3.9 million years ago.

The ancestor of jaguars evolved around 3.6 to 2.5 million years ago; while tigers began to evolve
into a unique species around 3.2 million years ago.

Lions and leopards split from one another about 3.1 to 1.95 million years ago.

While lions, leopards, and jaguars all form viable hybrids with each other, the tiger has only
formed viable hybrids with the lion (tiger/leopard matings resulted in aborted foetuses).

of the species have been mated to the extremely rare snow leopard — captive snow leopards
are part of conservation programmes and therefore not available for frivolous cross-breeding.

Hercules the Liger is currently THE biggest cat in the world, weighing over 1,100 lbs
(about half a ton).
A gorgeous male Liger

A tiger, a liger and a lion side by side. You can clearly see how the stripes of the tiger
are more 'washed out' on the liger, and that his fur colour is midway between the
parents. A liger cub (left) and a huge grown liger (right).

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. Baby liliger

 Kiara is the first hybrid cross between a male lion and a ligress (hybrid of tiger and lion).

Lion cubs with their roaring father. Adult male lions usually weigh between
330-550 lb (150-250 kg).

Compared to Ligers, we can say Tigons are their opposite: They have a tiger father and lioness mother. Also referred to as Tiglons or Tions, the big cats often carry marks from both parents. Though unlike Ligers, they are usually no bigger than their parents — weighing about 400 lb (180 kilos). The breeding of ligers (lion father/tigress mother) has always been easily accomplished, both by accident and design. Tigons, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to breed and significantly rare.

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 carries similarities to
leopards. These hybrids are produced in captivity and are unlikely to occur in the wild.

A Jaglion is a cross between a jaguar and a lion. This mesmerising black beauty is a female
called Jahzara who was born in Canada. Her father was a jaguar and her mother a lioness.
The brighter jaglion who grew up with her as a cub is Tsunami.

At the Alipore Zoo in India, a female tiglon named Rudhrani, born in 1971, was successfully
mated to an Asiatic Lion named Debabrata. The rare, second generation hybrid was called a
. Rudhrani produced seven litigons in her lifetime; some of which 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 meters (11 ft) in total length.

Reflecting on being different

Now to the infamous white lion, which is no a distinct subspecies; but rather, a special morph with a genetic condition, leucism, causing paler colouration similar to that of the white tiger. The condition is close to melanism, which is the reason behind the existence of black panthers. Having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin, white lions are NOT albinos — as it is claimed sometimes.

Letsai, a regal white lion. What majesty!
Stunning white lioness looking like a stuffed toy

On a parallel note, check Animals That Are Not To Be Confused to know the often-subtle differences between a crocodile and an alligator, a turtle and a tortoise, and a frog and a toad.



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Why Cats Are Not Dogs

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Animals That Are Not To Be Confused

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When Lady Ran Away

The Most Loyal Dogs in History

Things I Wish All Dog Owners Would Understand

A Dieu Caramella 

From Insects to Crows: Dogless and Searching for Companionship

Animals Getting High: Weird Nature ― Peculiar Potions [Documentary]


Why Flamingos Are Pinkish-Orange 
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