Three’s a crowd

 Photo report from the Novosibirsk Zoo: ligress Zita, lion Sam and three liliger cubs  06/28/2013, 13:22

Ilnar Salahiev
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Three’s a crowd
Photography and video by Ilnar Salakhiev

Ligress Zita gave birth to three liliger cubs in Novosibirsk Zoo in the middle of May — all of them female. Sib.fm’s correspondent spent a whole day observing the life of this family and reflecting on the pros and cons of breeding hybrids.

The cubs’ father is Sam, a young African lion. The liligers are now just over a month old and it’s difficult to believe that these kittens will be much bigger than their father when they grow up.

It’s not easy to catch the little ones in their enclosure while they’re still entirely helpless and clumsy. On the day of shooting, their mother Zita walked around the cage a few times but didn’t let her cubs out of the cave. Only when the sand became warm enough did Zita literally push her children out for a walk. However, the ligress decided to end the outing after just 15-20 minutes and sent them all back inside for a nap. A little later, Sib.fm’s correspondent watched as she took meat to her young, despite the fact they can only lick it for the moment. In this way, the cubs can get used to the taste and smell of meat — they will soon be adult liligers, the largest felines.

Read this report
in Russian

Looking back, in September 2012 Craig Parker, director of the Lion Research Centre at the University of Minnesota, told National Geographic that he doesn’t understand why zoos support the breeding of ligers and other hybrids. According to him, about seven million years of evolution separate lions and tigers and crossing them doesn’t make sense considering the conservation of these species in the wild. Sib.fm’s correspondent strongly disagrees.

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