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Tigon at National Zoo & Fish Aquarium in Canberra, Australia
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
P. tigris ♂ × P. leo

The tigon is a hybrid offspring of a male tiger (Panthera tigris) and a lioness, or female lion (Panthera leo). [1] They exhibit visible characteristics from both parents: they can have both spots from the mother (lions carry genes for spots – lion cubs are spotted and some adults retain faint markings) and stripes from the father. Any mane that a male tigon may have will appear shorter and less noticeable than a lion's mane and is closer in type to the ruff of a male tiger.


Tigons do not exceed the size of their parent species because they inherit growth-inhibitory genes from both parents, but they do not exhibit any kind of dwarfism or miniaturization; they often weigh around 180 kilograms (400 lb). It is distinct from the liger, which is a hybrid of a male lion and a female tiger, often weighing from 320 kilograms (710 lb) to 550 kilograms (1,210 lb). [ citation needed ]


Guggisberg wrote that ligers and tigons were long thought to be sterile; in 1943, however, a 15-year-old hybrid between a lion and a tiger was successfully mated at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub was then raised to adulthood. [2] Like the liger, male tigons are sterile while the females are fertile.

At the Alipore Zoo in India, a tigoness named Rudhrani, born in 1971, was successfully mated to a male Asiatic lion named Debabrata. The rare, second-generation hybrid was called a litigon. Rudhrani produced seven litigons in her lifetime. Some of these reached impressive sizes - a litigon named Cubanacan weighed at least 363 kilograms (800 lb), stood 1.32 metres (4.3 ft) at the shoulder, and was 3.5 metres (11 ft) in total length. [3]

Reports also exist of the similar titigon, resulting from the cross between a female tigon and a male tiger. Titigons resemble golden tigers, but with less contrast in their markings. A tigoness born in 1978, named Noelle, shared an enclosure in the Shambala Preserve with a male Siberian tiger called Anton, due to the keepers' belief that she was sterile. In 1983 Noelle produced a titigon named Nathaniel. As Nathaniel was three-quarters tiger, he had darker stripes than Noelle and vocalized more like a tiger, rather than with the mix of sounds used by his mother. Being only about quarter-lion, Nathaniel did not grow a mane. Nathaniel died of cancer at the age of nine years old. Noelle also developed a severe cancer that killed her not long after she was diagnosed.[ citation needed ]

Coexistence of parental species

As with the liger, the tigon is found only in captivity, [2] because the habitats of the tiger and lion do not overlap. In the past, however, the Asiatic lion did coexist with the Bengal tiger in the wilderness of India, besides occurring in countries where the Caspian tiger had been, such as Iran and Turkey. [4] [5] In India, there is a plan to shift some lions from their current home of the Gir Forest to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, which has some tigers, [6] but it has not been implemented as of December 2017, perhaps due to political reasons, as the Gujarat state government does not want any other state to have lions in the forests. [7] [8] [ needs update ]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tiger</span> Largest species of the cat family

The tiger is the largest living cat species and a member of the genus Panthera. It is most recognisable for its dark vertical stripes on orange fur with a white underside. An apex predator, it primarily preys on ungulates, such as deer and wild boar. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat to support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years and then become independent, leaving their mother's home range to establish their own.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lion</span> Large cat native to Africa and Asia

The lion is a large cat of the genus Panthera native to Africa and India. It has a muscular, broad-chested body; short, rounded head; round ears; and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. It is sexually dimorphic; adult male lions are larger than females and have a prominent mane. It is a social species, forming groups called prides. A lion's pride consists of a few adult males, related females, and cubs. Groups of female lions usually hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. The lion is an apex and keystone predator; although some lions scavenge when opportunities occur and have been known to hunt humans, lions typically do not actively seek out and prey on humans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Domestic long-haired cat</span> Variety of cat

A domestic long-haired cat is a cat of mixed ancestry – thus not belonging to any particular recognized cat breed – possessing a coat of semi-long to long fur. Domestic long-haired cats should not be confused with the British Longhair, American Longhair, or other breeds with "Longhair" names, which are standardized breeds defined by various registries. Other generic terms are long-haired house cat and, in British English, long-haired moggie. Domestic long-haired cats are the third most common type of cat in the United States.

The term "big cat" is typically used to refer to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, namely the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard, as well as the non-pantherine cheetah and cougar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bengal tiger</span> Tiger population on the Indian subcontinent

The Bengal tiger is a population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies and the nominate tiger subspecies. It ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to belong to the world's charismatic megafauna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liger</span> Lion and tigress hybrid

The liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion and a tigress, or female tiger. The liger has parents in the same genus but of different species. The liger is distinct from the similar hybrid called the tigon, and is the largest of all known extant felines. They enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tigons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gir National Park</span> Forest, national park, and wildlife sanctuary in India

Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Sasan Gir, is a forest, national park, and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. It is located 43 km (27 mi) north-east of Somnath, 65 km (40 mi) south-east of Junagadh and 60 km (37 mi) south-west of Amreli. It was established in 1965 in the erstwhile Nawab of Junagarh's private hunting area, with a total area of 1,410.30 km2 (544.52 sq mi), of which 258.71 km2 (99.89 sq mi) is fully protected as a national park and 1,151.59 km2 (444.63 sq mi) as wildlife sanctuary. It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Congolese spotted lion</span> Hybrid carnivore

A Congolese spotted lion, also known by the portmanteau lijagulep, is the hybrid of a male lion and female jaguar-leopard. Several lijaguleps have been bred, but only one appears to have been exhibited as a Congolese spotted lion. It was most likely given that name by a showman because the public were more interested in exotic captured animals than in captive-bred hybrids.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Asiatic lion</span> Lion population in India

The Asiatic lion, also known as the Persian lion, is a population of Panthera leo leo that today survives in the wild only in India. Since the turn of the 20th century, its range has been restricted to Gir National Park and the surrounding areas in the Indian state of Gujarat. Historically, it inhabited much of southwest Asia to northern India.

<i>Panthera leo leo</i> Lion subspecies

Panthera leo leo is a lion subspecies present in West Africa, northern Central Africa and India. In West and Central Africa it is restricted to fragmented and isolated populations with a declining trajectory. It has been referred to as the northern lion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Khathiar–Gir dry deciduous forests</span> Ecoregion in India

The Khathiar–Gir dry deciduous forests is a mostly arid ecoregion in northwestern India that stretches over 103,100 sq mi (267,000 km2) across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The dry deciduous forests in the region are dominated by teak, and thorny trees and scrub in drier areas.

A Panthera hybrid is a crossbreed between individuals of any of the five species of the genus Panthera: the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard. Most hybrids would not be perpetuated in the wild as the territories of the parental species do not overlap and the males are usually infertile. Mitochondrial genome research revealed that wild hybrids were also present in ancient times. The mitochondrial genomes of the snow leopard and the lion were more similar to each other than to other Panthera species, indicating that at some point in their history, the female progeny of male ancestors of modern snow leopards and female ancestors of modern lions interbred with male ancestors of modern snow leopards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hybrid speciation</span> Form of speciation involving hybridization between two different species

Hybrid speciation is a form of speciation where hybridization between two different species leads to a new species, reproductively isolated from the parent species. Previously, reproductive isolation between two species and their parents was thought to be particularly difficult to achieve, and thus hybrid species were thought to be very rare. With DNA analysis becoming more accessible in the 1990s, hybrid speciation has been shown to be a somewhat common phenomenon, particularly in plants. In botanical nomenclature, a hybrid species is also called a nothospecies. Hybrid species are by their nature polyphyletic.

Kuno National Park is a national park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, India. It derives its name from Kuno River. It was established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary with an initial area of 344.686 km2 (133.084 sq mi) in the Sheopur and Morena districts. In 2018, it was given the status of a national park. It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project</span>

The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is an initiative of the Indian Government to provide safeguards to the Asiatic lion from extinction in the wild by means of reintroduction. The last wild population of the Asiatic lion is found in the region of Gir Forest National Park, in the state of Gujarat. The single population faces the threats of epidemics, natural disasters and other anthropogenic factors. The project aims to establish a second independent population of Asiatic lions at the Kuno National Park in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. However, the proposed translocation has been bitterly contested by the state government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zoological Garden, Alipore</span> Zoo in Kolkata, India

The Zoological Garden, Alipore is India's oldest formally stated zoological park and a big tourist attraction in Kolkata, West Bengal. It has been open as a zoo since 1876, and covers 18.811 ha. It is probably best known as the home of the Aldabra giant tortoise Adwaita, who was reputed to have been over 250 years old when he died in 2006. It is also home to one of the few captive breeding projects involving the Manipur brow-antlered deer. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Kolkata, it draws huge crowds during the winter season, especially during December and January. The highest attendance till date was on January 1, 2018 with 110,000 visitors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lake Parishan</span>

Parishan Lake is a lake in Iran. The Parishan Lake is in Jereh and Baladeh District in Fars Province and is the largest freshwater lake in the country. It receives only very small amount of water from feeder rivers and the whole lake or wetland is a protected area, as it is considered a globally significant wetland ecosystem.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gulf of Khambhat</span> Shallow gulf near Gujarat, India

The Gulf of Khambhat, historically known as the Gulf of Cambay, is a bay on the Arabian Sea coast of India, bordering the state of Gujarat just north of Mumbai and Diu Island. The Gulf of Khambhat is about 200 km (120 mi) long, about 20 km (12 mi) wide in the north and up to 70 km (43 mi) wide in the south. Major rivers draining Gujarat are the Narmada, Tapti, Mahi and the Sabarmati, that form estuaries in the gulf.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liliger</span> Hybrid carnivore

The liliger is the hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female liger. Thus, it is a second generation hybrid. In accordance with Haldane's rule, male tigons and ligers are sterile, but female ligers and tigons can produce cubs. The first such hybrid was born in 1943, at the Hellabrunn Zoo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maneless lion</span> Male lions with a gene polymorphism

The term "maneless lion" or "scanty mane lion" often refers to a male lion without a mane, or with a weak one.


  1. Techné v6n3 – Patenting and Transgenic Organisms: A Philosophical Exploration. Scholar.lib.vt.edu. Retrieved on 17 September 2013.
  2. 1 2 Guggisberg, Charles Albert Walter (1975). Wild Cats of the World . New York: Taplinger Publishing. ISBN   0795001282.
  3. The litigon rediscovered. www.natureasia.com. Retrieved on 22 July 2017.
  4. Pocock, R. I. (1939). The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis Ltd., London. Pp. 199–222.
  5. Heptner, V. G.; Sludskij, A. A. (1992) [1972]. Mlekopitajuščie Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moskva: Vysšaia Škola [Mammals of the Soviet Union. Volume II, Part 2. Carnivora (Hyaenas and Cats)]. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. pp. 1–732.
  6. Johnsingh, A.J.T. (2006). "Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary ready to play second home to Asiatic lions?". Field Days: A Naturalist's Journey Through South and Southeast Asia. Hyderabad: Universities Press. pp. 126–138. ISBN   8173715521.
  7. "Tired of Gujarat reluctance on Gir lions, MP to release tigers in Kuno". Times of India. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  8. "Stalemate on translocation of Gir lions Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh to be used as tiger habitat now". Hindustan Times. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2018.