Where did the The Tigon and the Liger book idea come from?
A real-life tigon cub
Tigons and ligers captured my imagination when writing a magazine feature on hybrid creatures. I thought they were wonderful symbols of how we all sometimes feel we don’t belong and the story of Tyler and Lyla soon took shape.
A liger cub
Tigons, a cross between a male tiger and a female lion, are generally small whereas ligers, a cross between a male lion and a female tiger, are the world’s biggest cats.
While tigons are usually orange-coloured, ligers can be white, sandy or golden. They can both have stripes (from their tiger parent) and spots (from their lion parent, as baby lions are born with spots). It’s thought there are less than a hundred ligers and only a handful of tigons in the world.
The other unusual creatures in the book – zedonks, zorses, wallaroos, pumapards and leopons – are also real. Can you guess which animals their names are made from?
I love how Cosei Kawa has brought the creatures to life through his beautiful illustrations. He was inspired by the Gir Forest in India for the book’s setting, one of the few places in the world where it may have been possible for lions and tigers to meet in the wild (tigers are typically found in Asia and lions in Africa).
Hybrid creatures can be controversial as they are usually found in zoos or wildlife parks where different species are more likely to meet. The story’s purpose isn’t to enter into this debate, but to highlight that we are all unique individuals whose differences should be celebrated.