This week I’m telling you about animal hybrids, have you heard of ligers, tigons, leopons, and jaguleps? Never. Well that’s because they don’t exist in the wild.
They are designer animal hybrids created purely to tickle people’s curiosity. They are the offspring of two different species belonging to the same genus. A liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger, a leopon has a leopard father and a lion mother, and so on. This practice is not only unethical and inhumane, it also has absolutely no conservation value.
Bred in captivity to be used as cash cows, feline animal hybrids often suffer from severe health problems and die young. Whilst there are occurrences of two different species breeding in the wild, such as wolves and coyotes, this only happens when there is no other alternative. The decrease in the number of wolves in the U.S and Canada, because of deforestation and hunting, means that wolves are increasingly breeding with coyotes.
However, feline animal hybrids have never been known to exist in the wild. There’s a simple explanation for that. First, it goes against Darwin’s evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest. A liger or a tigon is more likely to be infertile and develop health problems, and is therefore less likely to survive. So why would a lion mate with a tiger unless there is absolutely no other option? Secondly, tigers and lions do not usually share the same territory and so rarely come into contact. When big cats do share the territory, they’re just not interested in each other.
The very existence of ligers, tigons, and other feline hybrids comes down to humans. In their endless quest for money and new types of entertainment, unscrupulous organisations are now playing God and creating real-world chimeras to be used as curiosities in zoos and other wildlife parks. They pay no attention to the impact that their little genetic games have on the creatures they design. Ligers for instance can reach impressive sizes, part of why they are so popular. However, this unsustainable growth is often too much for their organs and their hearts simply give up.
Have we become so bored that we now feel the need to mess with nature’s ways and magnificent creatures purely to entertain ourselves? This is not a Make-Your-Own Pizza where you can pick and choose what you like and mash it up together. These are living breathing creatures that deserve respect. Our opposable thumbs and fancy technology do not in any way give us the right to experiment with animals in a way that is completely unnatural and has no biological foundations. Whilst great things are happening for wildlife conservation, this also shows the very dark side of the wildlife industry where human greed appears to have no limit.