The Big Hybrid Cat Breaks World Record for Being the Largest Feline In the Entire World
Once upon a time, 12,000 years ago, to be exact, tall, large tigers called the sabre-tooth tigers used to rule the world. They were so big that their very existence threatened humans daily.
Even though their breed has been extinct since the Pleistocene era, nowadays, scientific development allows experts to crossbreed between lions and tigers to create a new hybrid – the “liger.” The ligers are quite similar to the sabre-tooth tigers in height and weight.
The Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina holds the most giant cats known in the world today. The park owners, Bhagavan Antle and his son Cody Antle, have introduced the two unique felines: white liger Apollo, weighs 705 pounds (approx. 320 kg), and his older, bigger uncle Hercules, an adult male liger that weighs an unbelievable mass of 922 pounds (approx. 418 kg).
Hercules is the proud owner of the Guinness book of world records’ coveted title – “Largest Living Cat.” He is a unique feline: not only that, he’s the title winner, but he’s also been bred by a white male lion and a white female tiger.
Since 1983, The Myrtle Beach Safari Park had guaranteed visitors to meet the fantastic liger – the world’s biggest cat! The park breeds its own tigers, to distinguish them from all the tigers around the world. The parks’ tigers are very unique because of their clean white color, which hasn’t been spotted in nature since the 1950s. Quite a sight for sore eyes.
In the video, we can see the ligers, Apollo and Kody Antle, meeting a new friend, “Real Tarzan” Mike Holstion. Mike is a wild animal lover. He is amazed by Apollo’s incredible size and strength and believes he could easily consume humongous amounts of food daily.
Hercules does love to eat. He devours at least 20 pounds of beef or chicken every day. He also exercises regularly and loves swimming.
There’s no denying Hercules is a marvelous wonder, yet he is also a wonder of man, not nature. Nowadays, the subject of breeding of ligers is highly controversial, and many oppose the procedure because, in the wild, there is no recognizable relation between lions and tigers whatsoever; they don’t interact, their habitats are different, and they never mate.
Moreover, tigers and lions usually bring to the world sterile male ligers. Some of the ligers suffer from severe birth defects, that could impact their way of life and their lifespan in general.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums or AZA is also protesting biological breeding. The organization states that bred animals don’t acquire the typical characteristics most animals present, which not only sends the visitors a confusing educational message but harms the animals’ way of life.
The AZA adds that color morphing, meaning the breeding of animals in a specific color, such as white, could easily affect the animals’ future development. By making one recessive gene be picked over a dominant one, the scientists change drastically the way the liger, for example, would’ve been developed. Chances are more recessive traits will stand out, instead of better, stronger dominant genes.
The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative says that experimenting on animals is unnatural and not biologically founded. They believe that if we love cats and want to honor them, many organizations presume we should let them evolve naturally.
The Myrtle Beach Safari goes against those allegations and stresses that the safari breeds lions and tigers to grow the tiger population in the world, and help them survive for many more years.
The organization explains that the breeding process is much more than just a way to make some waves. By breeding animals that are nearing extinction in the wild, they believe we can repopulate the earth, and helps grow their population significantly.
Nowadays, tigers’ and lions’ habitats are increasingly vanishing because of human intervention. Most of their natural wildlife habitats are eradicated.
Today there are only 3,000 tigers left in the wild. It seems that the only way to save them from complete extinction is to indeed turn to captive breeding. The outcomes of this decision will only be made known after several years.