Ligers, clouded leopards and coatimundis–oh my!


Photo by Bjorn Karlman
The mighty Liger can be seen at the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary. A liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger (not to be confused with a tigon – cross between a male tiger and a female lion). It is believed that the reason ligers can grow so much larger than any lion or tiger is because they are missing the growth inhibitor gene. In lions this gene is carried by the females, and in tigers it is carried by the males, so when a male lion and female tiger mate, neither of them is able to
supply the growth inhibitor—info from the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary

I went to a very cool place this weekend, the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary and Education Center. I can’t believe I haven’t been there before now as it is not that far from Chico, Paradise or Oroville. It has animals I’ve never even heard of, like the coatimundi, which to me looks like a cross between an anteater and a raccoon (weird, right?).

They house a couple of ligers (very exciting to me, especially as I am a not-so-secret fan of “Napolean Dynamite”) and the most white tigers I’ve seen this side of Siegfried and Roy. Plus some VERY loud European Brown bears who sounded like motors while they sucked their thumbs (a-DOR-able).

Even better, I didn’t feel depressed after visiting them, like I usually do after visiting a zoo and seeing animals caged in small spaces. According to their website, the Kirshner is a non-profit organization and takes in animals with special needs, medical conditions and injuries.

Like Sean, one of my favorite animals there, a huge, male, white Siberian-Bengal tiger. He was born with “extremely poor eyesight, poor motor skills and sporadic seizures. He is given naturopathic medicine for his pain and a specially developed formula to help him absorb the nutrients that he needs” (this info also from the website).

That doesn’t prevent him from playing with his favorite ball and having the cutest, fluffiest fur face that reduced me to squeals and high-pitched baby talk (for the record, he IS a very beautiful boy). And, he has a sign on his cage that warns visitors that he sprays. A volunteer told us he has a 15-ft range. I respect an animal that asserts its boundaries.

Also, the animals are close enough that the situation can prove to be HIGHLY interactive:

Zuki, the ring-tailed lemur, doing her best to entertain us

A word to the wise: Everything is outdoors, which could make your visit a bit cold, muddy or both.

Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary is at 4995 Durham-Pentz Rd., Oroville CA 95965. It’s open 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission $7 per adult and $6 per child.

Jammie Karlman is the entertainment editor for the Chico Enterprise-Record, Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @JammieKarlman

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7 Responses to Ligers, clouded leopards and coatimundis–oh my!

  1. Eugene says:

    Ligers!? Like the ones that Napoleon Dynamite likes to draw in his notebook? His sweet, sweet notebook.
    Thanks for the comment, and next time I’m up North and it’s better planned I will call you guys.

  2. guest says:

    yay support the ligers and our local wildlife sanctuary!

    btw I’ve read all of your blogs, they’re so entertaining! thanks!

  3. YES, but sadly, I didn’t see any llamas, which might have been a good thing as I probably would have burst from the wonderfulness of it all. And you’d better! 🙂

  4. Thanks! I aim to please (well, most of the time :D)

  5. Margie says:

    Wow – very cool. I’d never heard of this sanctuary before. I saw some very cute, and supposedly wild, coatimundis in Brazil last year. Although there were many signs telling people not to feed them, people just couldn’t resist their cuteness.

  6. Yeah, they were cute AND active. One guy kept running back and forth on his tree branch. He made me tired just looking at him. 🙂

  7. Liger says:

    how many hybrids will appear in the future who knows. i woder if this is the right thing to do

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