The history of ligers stretches back almost 200 years to the late 18th century, with several engravings and paintings depicting their existence. The Gir Forest in India is the only place in the world where the territories of lions and tigers overlap, and there are reports that a liger was born in this region in 1799- a single painting is the only proof of this.
Officially, the 1st liger ever recorded was in Asia (in the India-Pakistan region) in 1824. During this period in history India was ruled by the British, and ligers were often presented as gifts to the royal family. In 1837 two liger cubs were bestowed upon King William IV and his heir Queen Victoria. 60 years later (in 1897) a number of liger cubs were born in Hamburg at the Hagenback's Tierpark. In 1935, 4 liger cubs from 2 litters were bred in Bloemfontein, South Africa at the zoological gardens. 3 of these ligers survived to adulthood, and in 1953 (at the age of 18) the sole male liger weighed in at 750 lbs and was nearly half a meter taller than all the full grown lions when measured at the shoulder.
In 2007, a tigress in China named Huan Huan became famous after giving birth to a record 12 ligers over a period of nearly 5 years. These liger cubs included a set of twins and a set of quadruplets, and out of the 12 cubs 10 survived infancy.
Baby ligers are often kept as pets, but their owners often transfer them to sanctuaries when they grow too big. A non-obese male liger can reach to between 3 and 3.5 m in length and 900 lbs in weight(larger than the Siberian male tiger), and the female liger can reach to 3.05 m in length and 705 lbs in weight. These animals often live to between 15 and 20 years, though the USA's first female liger- Shasta, lived to 24 years of age.
The cub mortality rate of ligers is equal to that of tigers and lions, but as a liger grows up it becomes prone to blindness, pyometra, neurological problems, a weakened heart and other health issues- these issues are under debate.
The leading cause of death in ligers includes kidney failure, weak immune system, renal failure, arthritis and bone cancer. It is therefore critical to have a vet check on your liger, and a once a year vet visit is recommended barring health complications. As a liger grows the frequency of vet visits may grow to include dental work, xrays for spinal problems and ultra sounds for cancer.
In conclusion, it is not easy rearing a liger and it should never be done for sport or entertainment. These hybrids require huge amounts of food, expert vet care, experienced handlers and a lot of patience. Because they grow fast and they grow big, it is advised for you to only keep them as pets for a short amount of time (6 months) before you move them to specialist housing.
The allure of ligers is apparent, they are rare and they are stunning. Ensure that you have the resources to take care of a liger so that they do not suffer from disease, malnutrition or obesity.