Lions and tigers can cross breed

Ligers and tigons are two resultant species that emanate when lions and tigers cross breed. If a male lion mates with a tigress then a liger is born, if a male tiger mates with a lioness then a tigon is born. Both hybrid species are extinct in the wild as their respective habitats lead to minimal interaction, however many examples of both species can be found in captivity across the world in zoos and wildlife parks.

Ligers are now the more prevalent of the two species due to the greater probability of them living past birth, although during the early 20th Century this was not the case. The liger,
as with the tigon, shares characteristics from both parent species – ligers enjoy swimming for example, a trait which is associated with tigers, however they also have spots, a characteristic gene of the lion – and tend to be bigger due to imprinted genes. Indeed, the current largest liger in the world weighs over 400 kilograms and is twice the size of its parents. Interestingly, though, tigons tend to suffer from dwarfism rather than gigantism as they always inherit the growth-inhibitory genes from the lioness mother, often weighing only around 200 kilograms.

Unfortunately, due to the hybrid man-made nature of ligers and tigons, growth disorders and degenerative diseases are common, as well as shortened life spans.