It is known that four of the five species of the Panther genus, the exception being the snow leopard, P. uncia, can hybridize with each other to produce numerous hybrids. Most hybrids would not survive in the wild due to the males being infertile, but a few (such as the Leopon) are fertile and have a chance of survival in the wild. However, recent mitochondrial genome research by Texas A&M University geneticist William Murphy et al. reveals that wild hybrids did also occur in ancient times. In snow leopards and lions, the mitochondrial genomes of both species was more similar to each other than to other Panthera species, indicating that at some point in their history, the female progeny of the male ancestors of modern snow leopards and female ancestors of modern lions interbred with male ancestors of modern snow leopards.
Table of names for hybrids
Below are some tables showing the many Panthera hybrids. Panthera hybrids are typically given a portmanteau name, varying by which species is the dam (female parent) and which is the sire (male parent). For example, a hybrid between a male lion and tigress is a liger, because the lion is the male and the tigress is the female parent.
Below is a chart showing second-generation hybrids.
Jaguar and leopard hybrids
A jagupard, jagulep, or jagleop, is the hybrid of a jaguar and a leopardess. A single rosetted female jagupard was produced at a zoo in Chicago. Jaguar-leopard hybrids bred at Hellbrun Zoo, Salzburg were described as jagupards which conforms to the usual portmanteau naming convention.
A leguar or lepjag is the hybrid of a male leopard and a female jaguar. The terms jagulep and lepjag are often used interchangeably regardless of which animal was the sire. Numerous lepjags have been bred as animal actors, as they are more tractable than jaguars.
A.D. Bartlett  stated: "I have more than once met with instances of the male jaguar (P. onca) breeding with a female leopard (P. pardus). These hybrids were also reared recently in Wombell's well known travelling collection. I have seen some animals of this kind bred between a male black jaguar and a female Indian leopard:-the young partook strongly of the male being almost black.
In Barnabos menagerie (in Spain), a jaguar gave birth to two cubs from a union with a black leopard; one resembled the dam, but was somewhat darker, the other was black with the rosettes of the dam showing. Since melanism in the panther (leopard) is recessive, the jaguar would either have been black or be a jaguar-black leopard hybrid itself, carrying the recessive gene. Scherren continued, "The same cross, but with the sexes reversed, was noted, by Professor Sacc (F) of Barcelona Zoo (Zool Gart, 1863, 88) "The cub a female was grey: she is said to have produced two cubs to her sire; one like a jaguar, the other like the dam. Herr Rorig expressed his regret that the account of the last two cases mentioned lacked fullness and precision."
Female jaguleps or lepjags are fertile, and when one is mated to a male lion, the offspring are referred to as lijaguleps. One such complex hybrid was exhibited in the early 1900s as a "Congolese spotted lion", hinting at some exotic African beast rather than a man-made hybrid.
Jaguar and lion hybrids
A jaglion or jaguon is the offspring between a male jaguar and a female lion (lioness). A mounted specimen is on display at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Hertfordshire, England. It has the lion's background color, brown, jaguar-like rosettes and the powerful build of the jaguar.
On April 9, 2006, two jaglions were born at Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, Barrie (north of Toronto), Ontario, Canada. Jahzara (female) and Tsunami (male) were the result of an unintended mating between a black jaguar called Diablo and a lioness called Lola, which had been hand-raised together and were inseparable. They were kept apart when Lola came into oestrus. Tsunami is spotted, but Jahzara is a melanistic jaglion due to inheriting the jaguar's dominant melanism gene. It was not previously known how the jaguar's dominant melanism gene would interact with lion coloration genes.
When the fertile offspring of a male lion and female jaguar mates with a leopard, the resulting offspring is referred to as a leoliguar.
Jaguar and tiger hybrids
Reportedly, at the Altiplano Zoo in the city of San Pablo Apetatlan (near Tlaxcala, México), the crossbreeding of a male Siberian tiger and a female jaguar from the southern Chiapas jungle produced a male tiguar named Mickey. Mickey is on exhibition at a 400 m2 habitat and as of June 2009, is two years old and weighs 180 kg (397 lb). Attempts to verify this report have been bolstered by recent images purported to show the adult Mickey (see External links section). There has been no report of the birth of a healthy hybrid from a male jaguar and female tiger, which would be termed a "jagger".
There is a claimed sighting of a lion x black jaguar cross (male) and a tiger x black jaguar cross (female) loose in Maui, Hawaii. There are no authenticated tiger/jaguar hybrids and the description matches that of a liger. The alleged tiger x black jaguar was large, relatively long necked (probably due to lack of a ruff or mane) with both stripes and "jaguar-like" rosettes on its sides. The assertion of hybrid identity was due to the combination of black, dark brown, light brown, dark orange, dark yellow and beige markings and the tiger-like stripes radiating from its face. It is more likely to have been a released liger since these are very large and have a mix of rosettes (lion juvenile markings) and stripes and can have a brindled mix of colours exactly as described (their markings are extremely variable).
Leopard and lion hybrids
A leopon is the result of breeding a male leopard with a lioness. The head of the animal is similar to that of a lion, while the rest of the body carries similarities to leopards. Leopons are very rare.
A lipard or liard is the proper term for a hybrid of a male lion with a leopardess. It is sometimes known as a reverse leopon. The size difference between a male lion and a leopardess usually makes their mating difficult.
A lipard was born in Schoenbrunn Zoo, Vienna in 1951.
Another lipard was born in Florence, Italy. It is often erroneously referred to as a leopon. The father was a two-year-old, 250-kg lion, 1.08 m tall at the shoulders and 1.8 m long (excluding tail). The mother was a 3.5-year-old leopardess weighing only 38 kg. The female cub was born overnight on 26/27 August 1982 after an estimated 92–93 days of gestation.
It was born on the grounds of a paper mill near Florence, to a lion and leopardess acquired from a Rome zoo. Their owner had two tigers, two lions and a leopardess as pets, and did not expect or intend them to breed. The lion/leopard hybrid cub came as a surprise to the owner, who originally thought the small, spotted creature in the cage was a stray domestic cat.
The mother began to over-groom the underside of the cub's tail and later bit off its tail. The cub was then hand-reared. The parents mated again in November 1982, and the lion and leopardess were separated.
They were brought together on Jan. 25, 1983 for photographs, but the lion immediately mounted the leopardess and they had to be separated again for fear of endangering her advanced pregnancy.
The cub had the body conformation of a lion cub with a large head (a lion trait), but a receding forehead (a leopard trait), fawn fur and thick, brown spotting. When it reached five months old, the owner offered it for sale and set about trying to breed more.
The male leopon is a fertile offspring of a male leopard and a female lion. The fertile female liguar, offspring of a female jaguar and male lion, is capable of fertilization by a leopon. Their mating, though rare, results in a leoligulor.
Leopard and tiger hybrids
The name dogla is an unscientific native Indian name used for a supposedly natural hybrid offspring of a male leopard and female tiger or possibly a leopard with aberrant patterns. The correct scientific term for such a hybrid is leoger. Anecdotal evidence exists in India of offspring resulting from leopard to tigress matings. The supposed hybrids are called dogla by native hunters. Indian folklore claims that large male leopards sometimes mate with tigresses. A supposed dogla was reported in the early 1900s. Many reports probably refer to large leopards with abdominal striping or other striped shoulders and bodies of a tiger. One account stated, "On examining it, I found it to be a very old male hybrid. Its head and tail were purely those of a panther [Indian leopard], but with the body, shoulders, and neck ruff of a tiger. The pattern was a combination of rosettes and stripes; the stripes were black, broad and long, though somewhat blurred and tended to break up into rosettes. The head was spotted. The stripes predominated over the rosettes." The pelt of this hybrid, if it ever existed, was lost. It was supposedly larger than a leopard and, though male, it showed some feminization of features, which might be expected in a sterile male hybrid.
K Sankhala's book Tiger refers to large, troublesome leopards as adhabaghera, which he translated as "bastard", and suggests a leopard/tiger hybrid (the reverse hybrid is unlikely to arise in the wild state, as a wild male tiger would probably kill rather than mate with a female leopard). Sankhala noted there was a belief amongst local people that leopards and tigers naturally hybridise.
From "The Tiger, Symbol Of Freedom", edited by Nicholas Courtney: "Rare reports have been made of tigresses mating with leopards in the wild. There has even been an account of the sighting of rosettes; the stripes of the tiger being most prominent in the body. The animal was a male measuring a little over eight feet [2.44 m]." This is the same description as given by Hicks.
The 1951 book Mammalian Hybrids reported tiger/leopard matings were infertile, producing spontaneously aborted "walnut-sized fetuses".
A tigard is the hybrid offspring of a male tiger and a leopardess. The only known attempts to mate the two have produced stillborns.
In 1900, Carl Hagenbeck crossed a female leopard with a Bengal tiger. The stillborn offspring had a mixture of spots, rosettes and stripes. Henry Scherren wrote, "A male tiger from Penang served two female Indian leopards, and twice with success. Details are not given and the story concludes somewhat lamely. 'The leopardess dropped her cubs prematurely, the embryos were in the first stage of development and were scarcely as big as young mice.' Of the second leopardess there is no mention."
Lion and tiger hybrids
A liger is the offspring between a male lion and a female tiger. It looks like a giant lion with diffused stripes. Ligers are enormous because a male lion has a growth gene and the female (lioness) has a growth inhibitor, but the female tiger has no growth inhibitor. The liger is the largest feline hybrid, but the Siberian tiger is the largest subspecies.
A tigon is the hybrid of a male tiger and a female lion. The tigon is not as common as the converse hybrid, the liger. Contrary to some beliefs, the tigon ends up smaller than either parent, because male tigers and female lionesses have a growth inhibitor. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tigons were more common than ligers.
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- Shuker, Karl P.N. (1996). Leopons a-leaping [Big cat hybrids, Part 2]. Wild About Animals, vol. 8 (January), pp. 50–51.
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- *H Windischbauer, Hellbrun Zoo (1968)
- The Field No 2887, April 25, 1908, Henry Scherren: "In a paper on the breeding of the larger Felidae in captivity (P.Z.S [Proceedings of the Zoological Society]., 1861, p. 140),
- (Zoolog. Gart., 1861, 7)"
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