This 705lb (320kg) liger called Apollo, one of the world’s first white ligers, has been compared to a prehistoric sabre-toothed tiger – and with a reason.
Apollo is the hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female tiger – hence the name liger. Ligers are distinct from tigons – who are born to a female lion and a male tiger – inasmuch as that they tend to grow much bigger than either parent species. So much bigger that the largest cats in the world are all ligers.
The history of lion-tiger hybrids dates to at least the early 19th century in India. Since they live separately in the wild, they are only found in captivity. Currently, there are thought to be fewer than 1,000 ligers in the world.
Even among ligers, Apollo counts as a rarity. He and his three brothers are the first white ligers in the world, born to a white male lion and white female tiger in December 2013.
Back then, Apollo was the smallest of the four and, according to his owners, he behaved more like a kitten, purring and demanding to be stroked all the time. But look at what he has become. In this video, animal conservationists Mike Holston and Kody Antle take Apollo for a stroll in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, putting into perspective just how huge he actually is.
Some have compared Apollo to the largest species of prehistoric sabre-toothed tiger, which weighed up to 880lb (400 kg). But then you haven’t yet seen his uncle Hercules, who is actually even bigger than that. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Hercules holds the record for the largest living cat with a weight of 922lbs (418.2 kg) and a height of 11 feet (3.35 meters) when standing on his hind legs. He consumes about 30 lb (13.6 kg) of meat every day, washed down with about a gallon of water. Like Apollo, he also lives at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina.
Now, that’s a big cat!