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Liger: The biggest wild cat on Earth - PHOTOS

28 January 2010 [22:00] - TODAY.AZ
What is a liger? It’s a mix between a male lion and a female tiger. Hercules here, looks like something from a prehistoric age or a fantastic creation from Hollywood. But he 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 12 feet 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 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.

50 mph 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 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. At a massive 12 feet long, and weighing over 900 pounds, Hercules has a whole page devoted to him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Let’s take a closer look at this wonder.

/My Interesting Files/

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Photos: GettyImages, My Interesting Files

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