AN AMAZING FACT: Most people know that when you cross a donkey stallion and a horse mare you get a mule. Or maybe you have even heard that you can cross a zebra with a donkey to get a zonkey. Yep, it’s true! Or did you know the Sea Life Park in Hawaii has the world’s only known whale-dolphin mix? It’s called a wholphin. Crossbreeding between animals of the same species is rare in the wild but occurs more commonly in captivity, producing amazing results.
One of the most interesting mammal hybrids is a liger, the offspring of a lion father and tiger mother. Their unofficial scientific name is Panthera leo/tigris. Ligers share characteristics of both parents. Some look very lion-like, while others more strongly reveal their tiger heritage. The liger coat usually has the tan coloring of a lion, with tiger stripes running through it. The tiger mothers involved are usually the common orange color, but white tigers have been crossed with lions to produce white ligers. Even their roar is made up of both lion and tiger sounds. They usually roar like a lion and chuff like a tiger. A male liger may have a mane, typically much shorter than on the African lion. Ligers usually inherit a love of water, which comes from their tiger side of the family.
Hybrid animals often display what’s known as “hybrid vigor.” This means the offspring grow much larger and faster than either parent, and it appears that many hybrid pairings cause gigantism. This is why ligers are the largest cats in the world. They can stand 12 feet tall on their hind legs and weigh over 1,000 pounds! That’s over half a ton, up to double the weight of a fully grown tiger. That’s also a lot of kitty food. Fortunately, these cats have a gentle and easygoing disposition.
Did you know the Bible tells of a time when a race of giants roamed the land? They were hybrids of a sort. The Bible says the “sons of God”—descendants of faithful Adam—married the “daughters of men”—those from the line of rebellious Cain. This pairing produced “mighty men” and “giants.” Unfortunately, things deteriorated rapidly after that, and humanity became so wicked that God sent the Flood to cleanse the world.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4