Kiara, is a “liliger”, the offspring of a lion and a female liger. Yes, the same sort of liger mentioned in Napoleon Dynamite by the film’s crazy-haired protagonist. She was born at the Novosibirsk Zoo in Russia and while adorable as heck, Kiara’s existence raises concerning questions about the motivations of some in animal “conservation”.
As the National Geographic points out, it is extremely unlikely Kiara would have been conceived in the wild. Outside of zoos, tigers and lions are kept apart by distance, geography and behaviour, so the odds of them mingling are remote.
According to Craig Packer, an expert at the University of Minnesota’s Lion Research Center, lions are “very sociable and cooperative” while tigers are the complete opposite. As such, it’s uncertain how poor Kiara will deal with these very different psychological prerogatives as she matures.
So why breed such a hybrid in the first place? As Packer states:
“In terms of conservation,” he said, “it’s so far away from anything, it’s kind of pointless to even say it’s irrelevant.”
Perhaps it’s for the spectacle? I’m sure Kiara will draw the crowds. If that’s the case, her story is a sad one indeed.
Video: ITN News