The Ti-Tigon (Panthera tigris x Panthera leo) x Panthera tigris is a type of large cat hybrid. A ti-tigon is created by mating a tiger to a Tigon hybrid (offspring of a tiger and a lioness). If the tigon had been mated to a Lion the result would have been a Li-Tigon (Panthera tigris x Panthera leo) x Panthera leo. Due to the breeding process, the ti-tigon is 75% tiger and 25% lion.
The only ti-tigon on record lived at the Shambala Preserve in California. The male ti-tigon, named Nathaniel, was the offspring of a tigon called Noelle and a male Siberian Tiger named Anton. After being placed in an enclosure with Anton and several tigresses (who Noelle dominated), it had been wrongly assumed that Noelle would be sterile and so she was not put on any contraception. To the surprise of the park keepers, Noelle gave birth to a baby on 16th September 1983. The first few moments were extremely worrying as some of the tigresses tried to swipe the young cub away, luckily the keepers were able to rescue Nathaniel (although he died suffer a small puncture wound to his shoulder).
At the time it was believed by many that Nathaniel was the only ti-tigon in existence. As a cub Nathaniel had very bold markings and his fur was exceptionally long. Nathaniel died at the age of nine years old due to cancer, it is believed the pollution of mixed genes contributed to Nathaniels illness.
Nathaniel's mother Noelle was very protective, to the point that Nathaniel was allowed to feed for longer than he should of. When the keepers tried to wean Nathaniel from his mother, he refused to take the bottle. In the end the keepers reverted to smearing a milk 'paste' on his paws (knowing his instinct to stay clean would force him to lick it up!) Eventually he got the idea and began to eat from a bowl.
Nathaniel was darker than his mother and had bolder stripes. Very tiger-like, he only spoke tiger unlike his mother who vocalised in tiger and lion. Nathaniel never grew a mane, as only a small part of his genes were lion, but he did grow to a large size and with a long, thick coat. Nathaniel appeared very much like a darker Golden Tabby Tiger. The images here were kindly loaned to us courtesy of the Shambala Preserve.
There is a fantastic book that gives a little more information about Nathaniel, his mother Noelle and a myriad of other large cats. The stories are very interesting, the book is entitled 'The Big Cats of Shambala' by Tippi Hedren (I picked my copy up on Ebay!).
Disclaimer: PawsForWildlife does not condone the hybridisation of big cats. Not only do most end up with serious illnesses, but they also have no conservation value. Instead of cross-breeding we should be focusing on breeding the pure-breds and protecting them from extinction.