(UPI) An Oklahoma zoo announced the birth of what was described as the first litter of male liligers -- three quarters lion, one quarter tiger -- in the world.
Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joe Exotic, announced a female liger -- a hybrid animal resulting from the coupling of a male lion and a female tiger -- gave birth Sunday to four male liligers at his zoo, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
Schreibvogel said the cubs were the first known male liligers.
The first known liliger, a female, was born at Russia's Novosibirsk zoo in 2012, and Schreibvogel announced the births of three female liligers at his zoo the following year.
Schreibvogel said the hybrids he breeds at his facility are aimed at creating more durable breeds to survive climate change and other threats to the lion and tiger species, but experts have called his methods into question.
Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, said hybrid animals do not factor into conservation efforts, as they do not occur in nature.
"In terms of conservation," Packer told National Geographic in 2012, it's so far away from anything, it's kind of pointless to even say it's irrelevant.Copyright 2017 by United Press International