In an unsettling trend, we are seeing more and more ligers being bred for exhibition. If you don’t know what ligers are, they are the offspring of a male lion and a tigress and they grow to be around 900 pounds. The video above shows a liger cub that was recently bred to be put on display in a Russan Zoo. And while the big cat in question is incredibly cute (there’s no denying that), it’s important that we recognize the sad history behind this his birth.
Ligers are the products of a combination of human curiosity and greed. Lions and tigers would never mate in the wild, in fact, they live on two different continents, when they are not trapped in zoos. However, zookeepers continue to breed ligers because they are, indeed, rare and can draw a big crowd. But these two species were not meant to breed and because of this, most liger cubs are born with a multitude of birth defects and do not survive infancy. And life for the survivors is life in captivity.
There is no going back to the wild for ligers because the species does not naturally exist in the wild. The sole purpose of these impressive animals is to make money for their captors and provide entertainment to ignorant customers. It has been well documented that captivity is especially cruel for big cats. Being kept in a small cage goes against every fiber of their being and in some cases, big cats in captivity are driven insane by the prolonged confinement.
This lamentable situation is not a new problem, big cats are bred and used for personal gain all across the world. We see a similarly sad case when examining white tigers, who also suffer severe birth defects because of irresponsible breeding practices. But the liger situation is uniquely heartbreaking because they are torn between two completely different species. The Wildcat Sanctuary explains, “Tigers are solitary in the wild while lions live in social matriarchal groups. Tigers enjoy swimming and water, while lions swim only in extreme and rare situations.” So not only are ligers doomed to a life of captivity, they also suffer from a severe identity crisis their entire lives.
We can only imagine that evils of captivity will be compounded for the poor ligers, which is why this video – while very cute – is upsetting. The reporter completely misses the bigger story behind this liger’s birth and only focuses on the fact that he is going to grow up to be a really big kitty.
But we can help to stop this from happening. Share this post with your friends and raise awareness about the problems ligers, and all hybrid cats, face when coming into the world. When you see a hybrid cat in the news, let the good people over at CatLaws.com and they will reach out and educate the aforementioned media team. Education is the key to helping these animals.