Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT TIGUARS!



Over the years, a great many unusual big cat hybrids have been born in captivity - everything from ligers (lion x tigress hybrids), tigrons (tiger x lioness), and leopons (leopard x lioness), to lipards (lion x leopardess), jaglions (jaguar x lioness), and pumapards (puma x leopardess), to name but some.

Of especial interest, however, because he is quite possibly unique, is a big cat hybrid called Mickey. Born in June 2009 at Altiplano Zoo in San Pablo Apetatlan, Mexico, Mickey is a bona fide tiguar. His father is a Siberian tiger and his mother a jaguar originating from the southern Chiapas jungle. But what does Mickey look like? Despite an extensive online search during the completion of my next book - Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery, due out in autumn 2012 - I have been unable to locate a single description of him.

However, there may be at least one online colour photograph depicting Mickey. Reproduced below, this photo was kindly brought to my attention yesterday by mystery cat researcher Mark Fraser from BCIB (Big Cats In Britain) and cryptozoological enthusiast Ian C. Thomas. As can be seen here, it shows a very impressive, predominantly ginger-brown big cat, stocky in build, with an unmistakeably tigerine face, plus a white chin and mouth, but only very faint, greatly-reduced body striping.

Alleged photo of Mickey the tiguar of Altiplano Zoo as an adult (credit: http://www.taringa.net/comunidades/tkaffee/945148/Felinos-Hibridos.html)

Worryingly, however, on a few other sites this same photograph is labelled not as showing a tiguar but a liger (lion x tigress hybrid) instead. Moreover, the cat is surrounded by snow, which is not what one would expect from the subtropical region of Mexico where Altiplano Zoo is located. Having said that, as pointed out to me by fellow investigator Paul Willison, meteorological records show that during the winter period this region's temperature has sometimes fallen to only a degree or so above freezing point. So perhaps the presence of snow here is not so implausible after all.

In addition, I have discovered what I feel sure is a fleeting glimpse of Mickey as a 2-month-old cub in a video shot at Altiplano Zoo and uploaded by someone with the user name mvzxim onto YouTube on 9 August 2009. View it at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyv8HtA1w6M&feature=related

A still from the above video of Altiplano Zoo showing a mysterious cub that may well be Mickey the tiguar (video credit: mvzxim)

Certainly, whereas not resembling that of any familiar big cat, such as a lion, tiger, leopard, or jaguar, the cub (visible in the section of the video spanning 3.10 minutes to 3.14 minutes, and captured here in this still photograph) very closely resembles the above-noted alleged photo of the adult Mickey, complete with ginger fur, faint body striping, and white chin/mouth. Furthermore, unlike the photograph, there is no question that this video was indeed shot in Altiplano Zoo.

I am continuing to investigate the mysterious Mickey, in the hope of obtaining a verified photo of him as an adult plus any additional information concerning him that may be available, so any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for the stories Karl. Keep up the good work!!

    - Mate Szalacsi -

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  2. This is copied from Wikipedia:

    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). 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".

    Hope it helps. Merry christmas, Dr. Shuker, and a wonderful new year for all.

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  3. Well, that's more than I managed to find out, and I live in Mexico! Although far from this zoo.
    I did call the zoo and asked about the cat, but although the man who picked up the phone (he said he was the caretaker) confirmed that Mickey was alive and well, when I asked him if it would be possible for them to send me some pictures of him for a project I was working on, he said that I should speak to the owners of the zoo, although he thought there would be no problem. Unfortunately, every subsequent attempt to communicate with them has failed.
    I may try again soon and inform you of the results.

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  4. Thanks for this very interesting information - it's great to know that Mickey is still alive. When did you phone the zoo? It would be useful to know, as this will enable Mickey's current age to gauged. And thanks very much for phoning the zoo - I greatly appreciate it! All the best, Karl

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    Replies
    1. Hi!

      I hope you see this message. I wanted to apologize for not getting back to you; I haven´t forgotten about the whole tiguar thing. In fact I've done some more research, although none of it has been encouraging.
      The photo is, as the poster below said, of a ligress, not a tiguar. I contacted some people who have gone to the Altiplano zoo and they said they never saw anything labelled as, or similar to a tiguar. There are both jags and tigers in the zoo, but no hybrids. I am really puzzled as to why the man I spoke to on the phone told me there was indeed a tiguar in the park. I even considered the possibility that he misheard me and thought I was asking about jaguars, but no, I specifically said "hybrid between jaguar and tiger" and he said there was one all right.
      So that leaves me with several possible explanations; either the tiguar was never real and was either a) invented by someone on the internet, or b) invented by the zoo itself to attract tourists, or else, the tiguar did exist but is no longer in the zoo.
      The first option seems odd to me because if the cat wasn´t real I would've expected for the man in the zoo to refute it. Yet he confirmed there was such a beast in the zoo.
      So I am starting to suspect that there WAS a tiguar (maybe named Mickey, maybe not) in the Altiplano zoo, but he may have been sold to a private party. The reason why I believe this is that the zoo is sadly infamous for being involved in illegal animal trade (its been in the news several times, and apparently the local politics were involved in the trade too). I figure such a rare animal as a tiguar would be a desirable prize for any private collector. Many politicians and drug lords (and often, the line between both is blurry in this country) are known to keep wild animal collections as a symbol of status. Guess they like to feel they're Moctezuma.
      Recently some lions, tigers and black jaguars (and a monkey) were rescued from a drug lord's house and brought to my city's zoo.

      I'm afraid we may never now what became of the tiguar if he ever existed at all.

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  5. Hello. Thanks for this interesting site!
    After some research, the big cat on these images is named Zita, a ligress in Novosibirsk zoo, born in 2004 i think. I compared the marks on the face and there is no doubt. You can see others photos here : http://www.pawsforwildlife.co.uk/liger.php
    The name of the zoo is Apetitlan not ApetAtlan, a fault seen in numerous sites, also named Tlaxcala Zoo and Altiplano Zoo. I made my researchs about Mickey with all these names, i searched in Flickr, Deviantart, ... no information, no photo, nothing ! In this zoo there is some jaguars and tigers, but only Bengal tiger apparently, nothing about a Siberian tiger.
    On Messybeast there is reference about a tiguar in Hawaii, nothing in Mexico : http://www.messybeast.com/genetics/hyb-jagxtiger.htm
    Where did you found these informations ?
    All the sites had copied this article, i didn't found an other source.
    (sorry for my english, i'm a french student)
    Aurélie.

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  6. @ HN and Test: Thank you both for pursuing this mystery so rigorously on my behalf - I greatly appreciate all of your efforts! It's very odd indeed that no-one visiting the zoo has seen a tiguar there and yet the man you spoke to at the zoo by phone stated that it was there. Also, I agree entirely that if such an unusual animal were indeed on show, surely the zoo would have advertised the fact, as it would certainly have attracted plenty of visitors anxious to see it. So yes, perhaps it was there once but has now been sold to a private collector, as no other zoo claims to have one right now. All the best, and thanks again! Karl

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  7. Hi
    I own the website pawsforwildlife and can confirm 100% what Aurelie has said about Zita as the pics came to me direct from Novosibirsk zoo. It is a shame as I too have been searching for a pic of the questionable Tiguar. The Hawaii lead I have chased extensively and no-one in wildlife over there has ever heard of the rumours. Altiplano does indeed seem fictional as the zoo are very uncooperative on the matter, however I do think the idea of being sold to a private buyer possible. If only there was a way to find out?
    I noticed the Altiplano zoo are on facebook so I will message them and see what results I get
    Good luck with your search
    Regards
    Sebastian Bawn

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  8. Hi Sebastian, Thanks for your response, and promise to contact Altiplano Zoo. I have tried emailing them, but have never received any reply, but perhaps you will have better luck - I certainly hope so, as it would be excellent to know for sure whether such a remarkable cat existed, even if he is no longer there. I have experienced a similarly solid brick wall when trying to trace another unusual hybrid cat - a black panther (i.e. melanistic leopard) x tigress hybrid (dubbed a pantig in the British media), born at a zoo in England during the late 1970s but sold when adult to an unspecified American zoo.

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  9. Here are some of my new discoveries about tiguars that I have found from the Internet and Wikipedia. This may help with uncovering the mystery of the tiguar.

    According to this link, there are claims about tiguars in the wild: http://messybeast.com/genetics/hyb-jagxtiger.htm

    Also, I have done a search on when tiguars were first mentioned on Wikipedia.

    Tiguars were first mentioned when the page "Panthera hybrid" on 1 September 2005. No information on the tiguar except for its name (tiguar or jagger) was given. This edit was by JYolkowski.

    Further information about possible resemblence to a dogla, but more powerfully built was given on 14 September 2005 by a user with the IP address 20.133.0.14. According to http://whatismyipaddress.com/ip/20.133.0.14 , this user edited from London, UK. The location on Google Earth is Methodist Central Hall Westminster, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH, UK. This user has made several wikipedia edits.

    The information about resemblance to a dogla was later deleted. Until 2008 not much more was added.

    On 28 April 2008 a user called Raikou888ex wrote a long summary about a tiger/jaguar hybrid (tiguar) living in the jungle in the Amazon and gave lots of "facts". He/she was likely unfamiliar with wikipedia because he/she put his/her edit in the wrong place, deleted it, and then put it in the right place. However, the summary by Raikou888ex has no citations and is very likely made-up because he/she writes that tiguars can live for over 50 years. In reality, tigers live for 20-26 years (in captivity so in the wild it's less) and jaguars live for 12-15 years. A hybrid would not live for such a long time. Also, Raikou888ex talks about tiguars having cubs, but most hybrids are infertile.

    Raikou888ex's summary was deleted the same day.

    On 17 June 2009 a user with IP address 201.103.135.91 wrote first wrote about Mickey in the wiki article: "At the Apetatitlan Zoo (Tlaxcala, México) the crossbreeding of male siberian tiger and a female jaguar from the southern Chiapas jungle produced a male Tiguar named Mickey. The specimen is in exhibition at a 400 m2 habitat and as of June 2009, is two years old and weighs 180 kg."

    According to http://whatismyipaddress.com/ip/201.103.135.91 the IP address is from Mexico City. The user made no other wikipedia edits.
    Using the latitude/longitude given in the website and google earth, the location where the edit was made is Bolívar 21, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico.

    On 3 October 2009 user Seduisant changed the edit with the zoo being Altiplano Zoo in the city of Apetatitlan (near Tlaxcala, México). The same day he changed the city to San Pablo Apetatlan and converted Mickey's weight to lbs. Seduisant has made several wikipedia edits. However, there was still no citation.

    The section was further edited by subsequent users to become the version seen today. There was some vandalism (not about tiguars) on the section though.

    On 11 April 2014 I (infometric21) added the Hawaiin tiguar claim and its link to the wikipedia page.

    The tiguar section on wikipedia is on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panthera_hybrid#Jaguar_and_tiger_hybrids

    The revision history for the entire article is on:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Panthera_hybrid&dir=prev&limit=500&action=history

    I will continue doing more research on the tiguar mystery and will keep you all updated.

    Please reply if you have any additional information.

    Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you much for taking the time to investigate this subject in such depth on my behalf. How sad it is that there is still no definite evidence that Mickey the tiguar exists, though I remain intrigued by the cub in the video still I included above, as this is clearly a big cat hybrid of some kind and was definitely filmed at Altiplano Zoo.

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