The tigon and the liger are hybrid felines that are born from crossbreeding between tigers (Panthera tigris) and lions (Panthera leo).
The tigon or tiglon results from reproduction between a tiger and a lioness; the liger is the offspring of a lion and a tigress. In both cases, male hybrids are infertile (they stay immature), and only female hybrids can be fertile.
Reproduction between a tiger and a lion is rare. Indeed, the birth of the first ever liligers in Novosibirik Zoo in Siberia, in 2012 and 2013, was highly mediatised – these are the fruit of union between a lion and a liliger (itself resulting from mating of a lion and a tigress).
Morphologically, tigons and ligers present characteristics from both parents, in variable proportions from case to case. For example, they can have the tiger’s stripes and the lion’s spots. Whereas tigons don’t exceed the size of their parents, male ligers suffer from gigantism. Their weight can reach 400 kg and their total length, 3.5 m.
The behaviour of these felines can vary and is specific to each individual, since they are a result of crossbreeding between two distinct species. These hybrids often suffer from severe neurological disorders, developmental disabilities, and sometimes from behavioural problems. Many die shortly after they are born.
Tigers and lions are two species that diverged from each other many millions of years ago. Their respective distribution areas, habitats and behaviours are different. This is why neither tigons nor ligers exist in the wild. These animals don’t contribute to feline conservation. They are inventions created by humans and as such have no link with natural reality.