Napoleon Dynamite Liger T-shirt
I had never even heard of a liger before Napoleon Dynamite, and it's indeed one of the coolest animals at your local zoo (if your local zoo is any good).  This is one of the coolest Napoleon Dynamite tees I've found, but scroll down and read more about ligers below before you click off to buy this shirt.
Liger picture and definition...
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The Liger Really Does Exist!

Napoleon's world is inhabited by ligers, wolverines, and unicorns, but the fabulous liger is no mythical beast.  The liger is actually a rare mix between a lion father and a tiger mother, a gargantuan animal that's twice the size of either of it's parents.

Ligers do not posses any known "skills in magic," but they are rumored to exhibit the strength of their lion fathers, and the speed of their tiger moms.  Ligers have the mane of a lion and are striped like a tiger.  A liger's most stunning trait however, is their size - a liger is around 12 feet tall, and weighs 900 pounds and is the largest cat in the world (the Siberian tiger comes in second at about 500).

Enormous Liger

The reason for ligers growing so big is that female lions and male tigers transmit a growth inhibiting gene to their offspring.  Without this gene ligers continue growing throughout their lifespan.  The liger's hybrid counterpart is called a called a tigon, which is a cross between a tiger father and a lion mother.  An even rarer breed, the tigon is usually smaller than either of it's parents.

"You gotta have mild-mannered lions and tigers," says animal breeder Dr. Bhagavan Antle, "Normally the lion will kill the tigers."  This kind of combination is practically impossible in the wild, according to scientists.  Tigers and lions rarely inhabit the same habitat.  Moreover, tigers are solitary animals, and lions travel in prides.

There is some conflicting information on whether ligers can reproduce or not, especially male ligers  Most hybrid animals such as the mule are born sterile, however there have been cases of ligers mating with tigers and lions. Common names for such offspring include "ti-tigon," "ti-liger," and "li-liger."

Photo of ligers from the Hamburg zoo, circa 1904

Popularized in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, ligers have been bred since the late 1800s.  Ligers end up exhibiting some of the same features and traits of both of their parents.  For example, male ligers usually grow a mane, and their coloration pattern is a mixture of both stripes and spots.  Temperamentally tigers and lions are quite different, and ligers sometimes are torn between the solitary nature of a tiger and the social instincts of a lion.  They also climb trees like a trees and enjoy water, both tiger like traits.  To learn more about the truly fascinating world of ligers check out our liger links in the links section.

Additional liger pictures:

Black and white liger

Female liger

Resting Tiger

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