Ligers are without a doubt fascinating animals. They are the biggest cats in the world, ligers impressing with both their beauty and their dimensions. There are many ligers that can be visited nowadays in zoos from all over the world. However, even though they are cute, friendly animals, there are many issues linked to ligers and mostly to the breeding of these animals.
Commonly, it is believed that all ligers are sterile. The species is formed by the crossbreeding of male lions and female tigresses. Still, it is important to know that while most ligers are sterile, there can be cases in which these animals mate. The most obvious example in this context is the 15-year-old ligeress who gave birth to a healthy li-liger after mating with a lion. The event occurred at a Munich Zoo.
In fact about 6 cases of female ligeresses giving birth have been registered until today. The fertility of ligers is low and when a female is not sterile she can only produce one cub at a time. There has never been a cub born by two liger parents and no fertile male liger cases have ever been registered.
Even though ligers are extremely cute and interesting animals, they occur only by accident. The reality is that ligers occur in captivity almost entirely unplanned. Human error, as well as the closeness of tigers and lions in zoos are the ones to blame for the birth of ligers.
Why ligers are not breed in captivity? Well, there are numerous concerns linked to the health of these hybrid animals. And that is not all. It is a well known fact that for a tigress carrying the baby liger, which has impressive dimensions, can be extremely hard. Both the tigress and the baby liger can develop health complications. In many cases, cubs do not survive, dieing in the first week of life. And there is always the risk of ligers being born with severe health problems. According to specialists this occurs because the baby liger can hardly be carried by the tigress.
The only ligers that are known to exist nowadays are the animals that can be found in captivity. In this context the question on whether there are ligers into the wild or not occurs. Well, it is very unlikely for ligers to be found into the wild. Mating would be impossible as lions and tigers do not live in the same habitat, so meeting is unlikely. However, probably throughout the years ligers have occurred into the wild, as well. Rumors of their existence have first started about 1000 years ago. Still, a liger has never been officially documented to exist in the wild, so it all remains just a myth.