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Leopon

Leopon

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A leopon is a hybrid resulting from the crossing of a male leopard
Leopard
The leopard , Panthera pardus, is a member of the Felidae family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard was once distributed across eastern and southern Asia and Africa, from Siberia to South Africa, but its...

 with a lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

ess. The head of the animal is similar to that of a lion while the rest of the body carries similarities to leopards. These hybrids are produced in captivity and are unlikely to occur in the wild.
The first documented leopon was bred at Kolhapur, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in 1910. Its skin was sent to R. I. Pocock by W. S. Millard, the Secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society. It was a cross between a large leopard and a lioness. Two cubs were born, one of which died aged 2.5 months and the other was still living when Pocock described it in 1912. Pocock wrote that it was spotted like a leopard, but that the spots on its sides were smaller and closer set than those of an Indian leopard and were brown and indistinct like the fading spots of a juvenile lion. The spots on the head, spine, belly and legs were black and distinct. The tail was spotted on the topside and striped underneath and had a blackish tip with longer hairs. The underside was dirty white, the ears were fawn and had a broad black bar but did not have the white spot found in leopards. Pocock wrote that the closest he had previously seen to this type of hybrid was the lijagulep
Lijagulep
A Congolese Spotted Lion or more correctly lijagulep is the hybrid of a male lion and female jaguar-leopard . Several lijaguleps have been bred, but only one appears to have been exhibited as a Congolese Spotted Lion...

 (Congolese
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

 Spotted Lion) bred in Chicago.

They have been bred in zoo
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

s in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (the latter was a "reverse leopon" i.e. from a male lion and a leopardess). Karl Hagenbeck, who produced many different hybrids, recorded the birth of leopons at the Hamburg Tierpark in Germany, but none survived to maturity. A leopon skin and skull at the British Museum comes from the animal bred at Kolhapur Zoo in India and was donated by Lt. Col. F.W. Wodehouse of the Junior United Services sometime between 1920 and 1940.

The most successful leopon programme was at Koshien Hanshin Park in Nishinomiya City, Japan. A lioness called Sonoko was mated by a leopard called Kaneo. The lioness voluntarily assumed a position on her side to allow the much smaller leopard to mount her. A litter of 2 hybrids was born in 1959 and 3 more were born in 1962. In captivity, the normally solitary male leopard remained with the family (social behaviour is sometimes seen in captive specimens of normally solitary big cats). The hybrids proved to be sterile and the last one died in 1985. However, later leopons have successfully fathered cubs with liguars, hybrids between a male lion and a female jaguar. The resulting animal is called a leoliguar. The programme of cross-breeding was popular with the public, but it was criticised in zoological and animal welfare circles.

Based on the data from the Japanese cats, leopons are larger than leopards and combine features from the leopard and lion. They have brown, rather than black, spots and tufted tails. They will climb like leopards and seem to enjoy water, also like the leopard (oddly enough, the Japanese leopons were born of a water-loving lioness and a male leopard that did not seem to like water). Male leopons may have sparse manes about 20 cm long. According to American Monsters, the leopon has the size and strength of a lion. But, unlike the lion, they have extraordinary climbing abilities like the leopard. The female leopons may be torn between the solitary nature of the leopard and the social nature of a lioness.

P. L. Florio published a report "Birth of a Lion x Leopard Hybrid in Italy" in 1983 (this refers to the "reverse leopon" also known as a lipard or liard).

See also

  • Marozi
    Marozi
    The marozi or spotted lion is variously claimed by zoologists and cryptozoologists to be a distinct race of lion adapted for a montane rather than savanna-dwelling existence, a rare natural hybrid of a leopard and lion, or an adult lion that retained its childhood spots...

  • Liard
  • Pumapard
    Pumapard
    A pumapard is a hybrid of a Puma and a Leopard. Both male puma with female leopard and male leopard with female puma pairings have produced offspring...

  • Congolese Spotted Lion

External links


http://www.hemmy.net/2006/06/19/top-10-hybrid-animals/