Hybridisation in big cats and other animals.

Hybridisation - Page 1: General Information | 2: Objections To Hybridisation

Objections to hybridisation:

Since hybrids are, for the most part, incapable of breeding, usually the only way to produce more of these unusual specimens is to cross-breed other valuable purebred and mixed heritage cats. Here, several issues arise:

  • This often involves the use of two animals better used to further increase limited purebred populations.
  • The cross-breeding of animals, even those of a mixed heritage, incurs costs in housing, feeding and veterinary care. This money would better be spent ensuring the survival of purebred endangered species.
  • Zoos can only house so many animals and every place taken by a hybrid is one less place for an animal that can be listed in a studbook and used for breeding. White tigers are an example of this problem. The studbook for the purebred white Bengal tiger counts only 43 animals, the rest seen are of unknown heritage or they are hybridised.
  • Cross-breeding means the characteristics of both species are lost; therefore many conservationists consider this just another step towards extinction.  
    • Hybridisation adds nothing to wildlife conservation as these animals never existed in the wild anyway.
    • Hybrids are more susceptible to illness and early death.

  • Many hybrids end up on the 'pet' market; then in sanctuaries after they outgrow their welcome, or experience an accident with their owner. Worse still, a large number of abandoned hybrids end up being put to sleep because alternative care cannot be found for them.

Many zoos and other facilities now consider cross-breeding to be just another form of animal abuse. Consequently the zoological demand for hybrid cats, such as ligers, tigons and leopons, has now ceased. The few that still occur are usually accidental and may be caused when cat contraceptive implants do not work, or a private organisation fails to realise their hybrid female could be fertile.

 Illegal exportation of tigers:

Some private breeders use hybridisation as a way to help satisfy the demand for pet big cats. With minor alterations to paperwork even purebred tigers can be sold under the premise of being hybrids.

Normal tiger cubs may be found advertised for sale as tigons. This is because the laws in some countries (including much of the United States) allow hybrid tigons to be sold over state lines or exported; the same does not apply to purebred tigers for which this is usually illegal. Understandably, customs officers are usually not in a position to be able to recognise this scam.

Hybridisation - Page 1: General Information | 2: Objections To Hybridisation

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Photography With Thanks To T.I.G.E.R.S. (Photo 1-2)
Tiger Haven (Photo 3)
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