Maya is a female liger (½ Panthera leo – ½ Panthera tigris) born in May 2008. She was given to the Foundation because of the unique educational programs we offer the public. Born with Metabolic Bone Disease, which caused bowing in her two front limbs. Maya underwent physical therapy to correct her condition where she was taught to stretch her limbs out by reaching for the top of her enclosure. As there is very little documented research on ligers, the Foundation will monitor and conduct non-invasive research on Maya pertaining to animal soundness, nutrition, and behavior. We will strive to uncover the mysteries of having a lion and a tiger in one body. What we learn will help other facilities understand these mysterious, extraordinary animals.
The liger is the largest cat on the planet because ligers lack both copies of the growth inhibitor genes inherited from the parents. In lions the females carry this gene, and in tigers it is carried by the males. When a male lion and female tiger mate, neither of them is able to supply the growth inhibitor, which means that ligers continue to grow throughout their lifespan. Ligers often suffer genetic abnormalities and neurological problems, which could shorten their lifespan. Being a curious fusion of two different species, the liger chuffs like a tiger and roars like a lion. Also, some ligers enjoy swimming; an activity tigers partake in but lions do not. Most male ligers have sparse manes unlike a male lion.
The liger does not occur naturally in the wild. Most are the result of accidental breeding in captivity. Historical reports of the liger date back to the early 19th century. Since then it has remained somewhat of a rare exotic cat. Research has found that 90% of male ligers are sterile, but most female ligers are fertile and can be bred back to a tiger or lion. Today there are less than 50 documented ligers in the United States and approximately six documented tiligers (liger female crossed with a male tiger), one of which calls our Foundation her home! Researchers believe that tiligers will not suffer from the same genetic birth defects that ligers do.
|Body Length||10 – 11.5 ft|
|Weight||700 to 1200 pounds|
|Gestation Period||100 days|
|Litter Size||2 – 3 average|
|Life Span||12 – 20 years, found only in captivity|