Your morning adorable: controversial baby ligers in Taiwan
When they were referenced in the 2004 quirky comedy "Napolean Dynamite," most people thought ligers were fictional creatures. But as we have learned since then, not only are they very real animals that can grow up to 12 feet long, but because they're a cross between a male lion and a tigress, they can sometimes be deadly.
These two newborn ligers are currently just dangerously cute cubs from an African lion named Simba and a Bengal tigress named Beauty. But their birth Sunday at a private Taiwanese zoo was met with controversy that could result in a possible fine.
The Taiwan News is reporting that a local animal rights group, Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan, is asking the government to fine the zoo operator, Huang Kuo-nan, for illegally cross-breeding two protected species in order to produce the rare cats.
Tainan County officials plan on visiting the zoo, and if Kuo-nan is found guilty, he could be slapped with a fine of $1,500 U.S. dollars.
Lin Tai-jing, an EAST researcher, believes that such a fine is far too minimal to truly punish and deter illegal breeders. "It is like paying the government for a permit to breed ligers, " she told the News.
Because the mother has rejected the cubs, zoo staff have had to hand-rear them.
Kuo-nan disputes the accusation that he intentionally bred the lion with the tigress, saying that the two have been childhood lovers who have mated for years but their first offspring of three ligers (one died soon after birth) was "an accident".
-- Tony Pierce
Photo: Baby "ligers," which are hybrids of lions and tigresses, sleep inside a private zoo in Tainan County. Credit: Reuters