Hercules the Liger
By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Circulating via email, a set of photos showing a 10-foot 'liger' (a cross between a lion and a tiger) named Hercules.
Description: Viral images
Circulating since: April 2005
Status: Authentic (see details below)
Email contributed by S.M., June 3, 2005:
The 10ft Liger who's still growing...
Click to Enlarge
He is the accidental result of two enormous big cats living close together at the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, in Miami, Florida, and already dwarfs both his parents.
(Photos © Barcroftmedia.com)
Analysis: Ligers do exist, and are the product of crossbreeding male lions and female tigers, a mix that could theoretically occur in the wild but probably doesn't (the species don't typically co-exist in the same habitat). An adult liger is usually larger than either of its parents.
The specimen in the photos, Hercules, not only exists but is something of a feline celebrity, having "acted" in movies and TV shows and even appeared as a guest on The Today Show with Matt Lauer. The viral images above were taken by photographer Sam Barcroft and appear to have been lifted directly from his website, where there are many more just like them.
Likewise, the accompanying text seems to have been copied and pasted from an article in the February 16, 2005 edition of Daily Mail of London. The article goes on to note that lions have also been bred with leopards, producing "leopons," and leopards with jaguars, whose offspring are called "lepjags."
Update: World's Biggest Cat
In September 2013, Hercules the Liger was named the World's Biggest Cat (for 2014) by Guinness World Records.
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Sources and further reading:
Hercules by Name and by Nature: Liger Is World's Biggest Cat
Metro.co.uk, 16 September 2013
Guinness: Largest Cat, a Liger, Lives in SC
Associated Press, 12 September 2013
Hercules, the 900lb Liger, Crosses Abbey Road
Daily Mail, 27 January 2010
Ligers Make a Dynamite Leap into the Spotlight
National Geographic News, 5 August 2005
The 10ft Liger Who's Still Growing...
Daily Mail, 16 February 2005
Last updated: 11/02/13