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), The Unexplained (1996), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), 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), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is already considered to be his magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016), 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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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

CUBANACAN THE LITIGON - REDISCOVERING A LONG-LOST PHOTOGRAPH OF A TRULY REMARKABLE HYBRID BIG CAT


The rediscovered photograph of Cubanacan the litigon, seen here fully grown (© Alipore Zoo, reproduction courtesy of Dr Ashish Kumar Samanta and Ms Piyali Chattopadhyay Sinha, respectively the Director and the Deputy Director of Alipore Zoo, Kolkata)

On 22 May 2017, I brought to the attention of celebrated Indian naturalist Shubhobroto S. Ghosh – currently Wildlife Project Manager of World Animal Protection in India – a  colour photograph hitherto deemed long-lost that depicts a truly extraordinary hybrid big cat. The cat in question is Cubanacan, a male litigon (or li-tigon), i.e. the progeny of a lion and a female tigon (tiger x lioness hybrid), shown fully grown in the rediscovered photo. He was born at Alipore Zoo in Kolkata, India, on 7 March 1979, and was the only surviving cub of his litter of three. Cubanacan was also once the world’s largest big cat in captivity, who, according to an entry in the 1985 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, weighed 363 kg (800 lb), stood 1.32 m (4 ft 4 in) at the shoulder, and measured 3.5 m (11.5 ft) in length. Moreover, it was in that particular edition that I had rediscovered the photograph (credited there to Calcutta Zoo, i.e. Alipore Zoo), whose reproduction in it had apparently not been known about by other researchers seeking any existing Cubanacan images (this may be due to the photo seemingly appearing only in this one edition, for 1985, not in any of those for earlier or later years), and which was not even present in the archives of its originator, Alipore Zoo.

Given the present-day aversion to hybridisation occurring in captivity, and the ban imposed in 1985 on crossbreeding big cats in India, it appears that Cubanacan’s memory was purposely forgotten. Yet the hybridisation debate in biology is important. So too is the current proposal on banning big cat hybridisation in the USA. Consequently, it is in the light of such controversies that this rediscovered photograph of Cubanacan has now been preserved for posterity as a valuable item in wildlife history, best viewed without value judgement, by having been included within a major new photo story article* published online by Nature India (please click here to read it). Authored by myself and Shubhobroto, it constitutes both the most comprehensive and the most extensively-illustrated account of Cubanacan's history ever produced.

Photograph of Cubanacan the litigon snapped when he was just one year old, in The Statesman, Calcutta (now Kolkata), 12 March 1980 (© The Statesman, Calcutta (now Kolkata), reproduced here on a strictly educational, non-commercial Fair Use basis only)




Hope yet for the alleged missing thunderbird photograph (click here to read all about it)? Further proof at least that long-lost photos of unusual animals CAN be rediscovered (also, click here to read about my part in rediscovering the long-overlooked Trunko photographs).

Cubanacan, together with a vast diversity of other fascinating feline hybrids, including ligers, pumapards (also click here), leopons (also click here), titigons, liligers, jaguleps, litards, pantigs (click also here), servicals (click also here), and even an extraordinary three-species hybrid dubbed a lijagupard, also features in my book Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery.




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