Sunday, March 27, 2011

Apple #514: That Factory Song

So the other day a friend of mine was singing that factory song that gets used in Warner Brothers cartoons.  He said, "I don't even know what that song is called." I didn't either, but we both knew it well enough to sing several bars of it.  Thus another Daily Apple was born.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a cartoon where I definitely remember the song being used. The cartoon is called I Gopher You:

The song appears in bits and pieces, beginning around 1:48. The gophers' names, by the way, are Mac and Tosh.

  • The song is called "Powerhouse."  It was written in 1936 by a jazz composer named Raymond Scott.
  • The song has two parts that are very distinct from each other.  Part A is the frantic running-around part. Part B is the more methodical part with a jazzy saxophone over it.
  • Scott never intended this song to be used in cartoons.  He was the pianist in his jazz band the Raymond Scott Quintette (sic). "Powerhouse" was one of the songs he wrote for his quintet.

Raymond Scott in the CBS studios in 1937, a year after he wrote "Powerhouse."
(Photo from

  • In 1943, Warner Brothers bought the rights to his music.  That included "Powerhouse" as well as lots of other songs of his.  Carl Stalling, the music director for Warner Brothers, was a particular fan of Scott's music, and he used it in many of his cartoons.  
  • Warner Brothers cartoons where this song was used however briefly, in chronological order. (I've looked up some of them and provided links to the cartoons for you.  If there's no link, that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a video of the cartoon online somewhere; it only means I didn't look it up.)
Swooner Crooner uses both parts of "Powerhouse" all over the place, but especially in the beginning before the crooner begins to sing.

  • The song has been used in other cartoons as well, including:
      • The Simpsons (And Maggie Makes Three)
      • Animaniacs (Toy Shop Terror)
      • Ren & Stimpy (Big Baby Scam; Doubleheader; Mad Dog Höek)
      • Duckman (Aged Heat 2: Women in Heat). 
  • Toy Shop Terror was actually written for the song.  The Cartoon Network has also used "Powerhouse" as its theme song for a number of years.
  • Neither Scott nor his wife ever watched cartoons.
  • "Powerhouse" was also used in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Actually, the film's composer inserted bits of it into his score without permission and without crediting Scott.  After being threatened with a copyright infringement lawsuit, Disney agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to Scott's estate in a settlement.
  • The Canadian rock band Rush also used the music in their 1978 song "La Villa Strangiato."  They, too, had to pay royalties after the fact.
  • Apparently, as of 2003, the song entered the public domain. But you might want to double-check that before you go using it willy-nilly.
  • After Scott left his 1930s quintet, he went on to collaborate with all sorts of musicians and other folks, including Dorothy Collins, Berry Gordy, and Jim Henson, with whom he wrote a number of experimental films, and a commercial for Bufferin aspirin.
  • A graduate of Juilliard who believed strongly in improvisation and also a graduate of a technical high school who loved electronics, Scott was also an inventor of all sorts of musical equipment and instruments to create new sounds.

This was Scott's "wall of sound," 6-foot by 30-foot electro-mechanical sequencer that used various timing solenoids, switches that operated relays, tone circuits, and 16 oscillators. It produced its own music, but if you stood close to it, you couldn't hear the music it made over the clicking and clacking of the machine itself.
(Photo from

  • The guy who invented the Moog Synthesizer, Bob Moog, met Raymond Scott in the 1950s.  
  • Moog was very impressed by Ray's recording studio and his extensive shop which was "the size of a football field."  Not just a hundred yards long, it was two floors connected by an elevator. The first floor was a machine shop with all sorts of drill presses and machine tools. The second floor was his wood-working shop which had five lathes, among other things. He also an electronics assembly room, about the size of a barn, with all sorts of spare electronics parts.
  • Some time after Moog visited, Scott sent him an instrument that combined a keyboard with an electronic circuit, which Scott called the Clavivox.  It was very similar to an analog synthesizer that Moog invented, but not until several years later, in the 1960s.
Raymond Scott was definitely in the forefront of developing electronic music technology, and in the forefront of using it commercially as a musician. He foresaw the use of sequencers and electronic oscillators to make sound — these were the watershed uses of electronic circuitry. He didn't always work in the standard ways, but that didn't matter because he had so much imagination, and so much intuition, that he could get something to work. And do exactly what he wanted it to do. (Bob Moog)

Scott leaning on his Clavivox, in front of his wall of sound.
(Photo from the Raymond Scott Archives, sourced from Animation World)

It seems quite fitting that one of Scott's lasting contributions was a piece of music that sounds as mechanical as all the gizmos that he liked to play around with. 

You can buy the mp3 of "Powerhouse" from Amazon for $0.99

Or you can purchase it as one of several songs on this CD.  In this version, "Powerhouse" sounds much more 1930s-ish, not the sleek, polished up arrangements used in the cartoons.

The song and the album are also available on iTunes.

Anonymous response to old cartoon music, The Soundtrack Collector, January 28, 2004, Other cartoons using his music, Memories of Raymond Scott by Bob Moog
Irwin Chusid, Raymond Scott: Accidental Music for Animated Mayhem, Animation World Magazine, July 1999

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apple #513: Wolverines

Recently a friend and I watched a really good documentary about wolverines. Not the team, and not the X-Man. The actual animals. Turns out they are way cooler than I ever knew.

Nature: Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom
(Available for $11.93 through Amazon)

The documentary said that little is known about wolverines because so few people have seen them. Even some of the researchers who have spent decades studying wolverines have never actually seen them in person. They may have caught wolverines on camera, but they've never actually encountered a wolverine.

What the documentary did get across was that wolverines are super fast and strong for their size, they are indefatigable, and they have personality to spare. So I want to know more about these animals. What are some of the basic facts that we do know about them?

Wolverines have pointy faces but a snubbed nose, very thick fur that is a mixture of brown and black with golden hairs under the chin, a stout bushy tail, and huge feet with claws. This one is doing one of the wolverine's favorite things: running over the snow.
(Photo posted by Anonymous at care2)

  • Wolverines may look like a cross between a bear and a raccoon, but they're actually members of the weasel family.
  • They're not big -- only about 3 to 4 feet long and they weigh about 30 to 40 pounds. But they pack a punch in those little bodies.
Picture a Weasel—and most of us can do that, for we have met that little demon of destruction, that small atom of insensate courage, that symbol of slaughter, sleeplessness, and tireless, incredible activity—picture that scrap of demoniac fury, multiply that mite some fifty times, and you have the likeness of a Wolverine.
--Ernest Thompson Seton, 1953

  • Here's a 2-minute bit from a Wild Kingdom episode that gives a brief overview of the wolverine, and gives you a good idea of how they move. I wanted to embed it here but the dang link they provided didn't work.
  • Wolverines cover territories that are enormous relative to their size -- anywhere from 200 to 1,000 square miles.
  • In deep snow, when other animals typically slog away and sometimes founder, wolverines can cover as much as 15 miles in a day. And, by the way, they run the entire time. 
  • They're able to run like this over snow mainly because of their feet. Put simply, their feet are huge.

It's tough to tell how large the wolverine's paw is from this photo, but you can get a sense of how sharp their claws are. I'm more stunned by the fact that the wolverine is allowing himself to be held, though it looks like he won't put up with it for long.
(Photo from The Wolverine Blog)

This drawing of a wolverine's paw print isn't that great. For one thing, it's about half the size that it should be. But I posted this image because it gives a good idea of how the toes of the wolverine fan out. Because of the size of their paws and the way they spread out like this, it's as if the wolverines are running on snowshoes.
(Image from Through the Eyes of a Wolverine)

  • The Latin name for wolverine is Gulo gulo, which means glutton glutton.
  • They are so named not because they kill more food than they can eat or because they overeat, but because the animals they kill for food can be enormous compared to their size. They've been known to take down elk, moose, or caribou.
  • Most of the time, though, they kill smaller animals like rabbits or grouse or squirrels, or they eat carrion -- animals that are already dead. They're especially good at finding dead animals buried deep under the snow.
  • If they do kill or come across more food than they can eat at one time, they'll mark the food (spray it with their scent), bury it under the snow to preserve it, and come back for it later.
  • Eventually, they'll eat everything -- bones, teeth, skull, everything.
  • One person in the documentary said that one of the reasons he's so impressed with wolverines is because other animals that you normally think of as being really good in the mountains, like mountain goats, can still get taken out by avalanches. But wolverines not only survive the avalanches, they eat the animals that don't.
  • They are pretty much unstoppable.  When they're moving, which is most of the time, they're running. When they sleep, it's only for about three or four hours at a time. Then they get up and run some more.
  • Wolves, bears, and mountain lions are the wolverine's only predators. Those animals are also a wolverine's primary competitors for food.  But a wolverine is not so helpless against them.  A single wolverine is capable of driving a pack of wolves away from a kill.
  • They're not especially graceful and they don't see too well, so when they hunt, they use the element of surprise. They'll climb up a tree or onto a tall rock and when some likely animal wanders by, they'll jump on the animal's back. Sometimes this breaks the animal's back, or sometimes fighting ensues.

One common way that researchers have studied wolverines is to hang some sort of meat from a tree in front of a camera. Wolverines come around, climb the tree to get the food, and their motion triggers the camera shutter. That's how this picture was taken.
(Photo by Audrey Magoun, sourced from Chattermarks)

  • Wolverines are also excellent swimmers.
  • They live in dens under rocks or roots in the warm months. During winter, they dig dens deep into snow drifts. Often their dens include a complicated system of tunnels and chambers.
  • Wolverines generally keep to themselves except during mating. Both males and females may mate with more than one wolverine. When the female gives birth, she may have anywhere from 1 to 6 kits, any or all of which may have different fathers.
  • The babies are born in a den dug into the snow. They're born blind with white fur that camouflages them against the snow.  As they mature, their fur darkens.
  • Wolverines were hunted to near extinction because of their fur.  It's very thick and dense, so actually an entire coat made of wolverine fur would be extremely heavy. Now, if people use wolverine fur at all (some native people still do), they use it only to line the hoods of parkas because of its other remarkable quality -- it doesn't hold moisture and therefore it won't freeze.
  • The fact that wolverines used to be hunted a lot for their fur is one reason why few people have seen them -- there are very few of them left.  Their snowy and wild habitats are also going away, so they have retreated farther and farther north.

Wolverines live in the areas in black -- or at least, this is where they are believed to live as of 1999. The numbers refer to subspecies. (1) is Gulo gulo gulo (I'm not kidding) and (2) is Gulo gulo luscus.
(Map from San Francisco State University Department of Geography)

  • They once lived as far south as Arizona and New Mexico.  As you can see, they've moved quite a distance north. 
  • They also really don't like being around people. That's probably another reason why few people have seen them in the wild.
  • Wolverines aren't on US endangered or protected species lists because applications for them to be included were rejected for insufficient data. Nobody can find enough wolverines to conduct a census that anybody thinks is anywhere near accurate. [EDIT: soon this will be no longer true. As of February 2013, US wildlife officials are asking that wolverines be added to the endangered species list because their habitats are threatened by climate change. Only an estimated 250 to 300 remain.]
  • There is some good news, though.  In 2004, a wolverine was spotted in Michigan -- a state where no one has seen a wild wolverine in 200 years. They saw the animal near a town called Ubly, which is about 90 miles north of Detroit.

This is the wolverine that was seen in Michigan in 2004, photographed as it was running out of the woods and across a field. 
(Photo by wildlife biologist Arnie Karr via AP)

  • In 2010, a wolverine was spotted in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Later, that same wolverine was seen in Colorado -- 500 miles south. The last time anybody saw a wolverine in Colorado was in 1919.
  • Researchers were able to catch him and put a radio collar on him.  They named him M56 (I think the M stands for male), and people are hoping to be able to monitor his movements.

See? Enormo-paws.
(Photo from Esquire)

  • If you think you've seen a wolverine, document as much of the experience as you can -- take pictures of the animal or its tracks, note your location by GPS or as specifically as possible -- and let the folks at The Wolverine Blog know about it.

If you're interested, here's the documentary I watched. It was on PBS, so your library probably has a copy of it.

Nature: Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom
(Available for $11.93 through Amazon)

National Geographic, Wolverine (Gulo gulo)
Arctic Animals, Wolverine (Gulo gulo)
Muirmaid, Wolverine
The Animal, Wolverine
Fur Commission USA, Fur types in brief
New Hampshire Public Television, NatureWorks, Wolverine - Gulo gulo
C. Breen, The Biogeography of Gulo gulo (wolverine), Biogeography, San Francisco State University
Colorado Division of Wildlife, Wolverine
Kurt Repanshek, Wolverine Sightings Growing in Rocky Mountain National Park, National Parks Traveler, August 6, 2010
David Runk, First Michigan wolverine spotted in 200 years, Associated Press, February 25, 2004

Monday, March 14, 2011

Apple #512: How Earthquakes and Tsunamis Happen

So with all the recent articles and conversations about the enormous earthquake that Japan suffered at the end of last week, there's been lots of talk about plate tectonics.  Plates of the earth's crust shifting and bumping into each other.  People are using words like subduction and convergent plates and all sorts of stuff like that.  Even though I studied earthquakes in school like everybody else, I'm having a hard time visualizing the complete process by which an earthquake occurs.  So, like a good Apple Lady, I looked it up.

Because it's a process, static diagrams weren't very helpful to me.  I wanted animations.  Drawings in action, with arrows and helpful identifiers to show me what's happening, to show me how the stuff under the crust can build up, or how an earthquake can send shock waves through the ground.  So I went looking for lots of videos.

I found some helpful stuff.  I'm going to give them to you from basic and general to more specific, zeroing in on what happened in Japan, first to create an earthquake, and then to create the tsunami.

Plate Tectonics Basics

Basically, the earth's crust is a series of floating flat islands of rock, or plates. The plates are sliding around on top of molten rock. As the plates bang into each other or drift apart, the shape of the landscape changes. Mountains might form, or volcanoes could form and erupt, or earthquakes could happen.

In this animation, the process ends with the creation of a volcano:

Types of Plate Movements and Boundaries

As the hunks of the earth's crust are floating around, they bump into each other or interact with each other in different ways. Sometimes they float away from each other (diverge), sometimes they bump into each other (converge), and sometimes they rub against each other (transform).

This presentation shows how the plates can interact with each other to create different results. Specifically, it describes the various types of boundaries and what happens to the crust in each case:

This soundless animation focuses specifically on what happens as the crust on one plate is forced beneath another.  This process is called subduction.  As shown here, the crust that gets pushed down into the hot magma gets melted and eventually bubbles back to the surface in the form of volcanoes:

The voice-over for this one is in French, but the images are still helpful, I think. This animation shows plate movement at the bottom of the ocean. First it shows what happens when plates diverge, and then it shows convergent plates where one is subducted beneath another and volcanoes and mountains form as a result -- all at the bottom of the ocean:

Earthquakes in the Ocean Creating Tsunamis

The process by which volcanoes are formed is very similar to the process by which earthquakes are created. The difference is, instead of one plate happily subducting another below it to be melted and turned into a volcano, the plate getting butted against pushes back or rebounds, and that causes an earthquake.

This animation shows an oceanic plate pressing against a continental plate until an earthquake results. There's no sound, but explanations are included in text along with the animation:

This is an animation of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that happened in Sumatra in 2004. It shows one oceanic plate pressing against a continental plate. The passage of time is indicated in the right hand corner. The pressure builds up until finally the continental plate pushes back, so to speak, creating an earthquake.  By the way, the speed with which the "island pops up" is deceptively fast.  In real life, that would take many years.

But this is the closest depiction I could find of what happened in the earthquake in Japan:


Compared to the creation of an earthquake, the process by which tsunamis occur is relatively simple. Also, since they are in effect reactions to earthquakes in the ocean, they happen much more quickly.  But because so much water is involved, they can be far more destructive than the earthquakes that created them.

Quick & dirty overview of how a tsunami is formed:

I can't embed this next video, but I can give you a link.  This meteorologist's animation isn't great, but his explanation is helpful and it's a more complete explanation than the animation immediately above.

This guy with a British accent explains pretty much the same thing as the American meteorologist.  His images are rather static and though they're kind of hard to read, they're actually more descriptive than the meteorologist's. This guy also goes on to talk about where tsunamis tend to be more common:

This animation generated by NOAA shows the path(s) of the tsunami following the earthquake in Japan.  Suddenly the Pacific Ocean seems much smaller:

Here's another graphic from NOAA, this one static.  It shows the intensity of the tsunami that started at its originating earthquake off the shore of Japan.

The black triangles, I think, are tide gauges. The black lines are "computed tsunami arrival times."
(Graphic by NOAA, sourced from

Pretty intense.  All of it courtesy of the seething hot mass that is the mantle beneath our feet.

If you want to know more about how tsunamis work, read this brief article by Jeremy Bernstein, a physicist and regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.  It's descriptive without being too technical, informed without being stuffy.  Good stuff.
(Thanks, regular reader Jason, for the link.)

Apple #511: Forsythia

It's that time of year when the forsythia bushes are beginning to bloom.  I saw the first one of the season blooming in my neighborhood the other day.

Forsythia blooming its nice, bright yellow flowers when few plants aren't doing much of anything yet.
(Photo by Arielle from Flickr, sourced from Country Gardener)

  • Forsythia plants are members of the olive family.
  • They're originally from China.
  • Forsythia plants are named after William Forsyth, a guy who was one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society in England in the late 1700s.
  • You might think that because they're named after Forsyth, he had something to do with the discovery of the plants.  Not so.  They were discovered by a different guy named Robert Fortune.  He was a plant enthusiast and he discovered the shrubs in China.
  • Some people call the plants Golden Bells, after the shape of the flowers.

Botanists would say these blooms have 4 lobes, mostly in clusters of 2 or 6. The layperson might say they look like golden bells.
(Photo from Garden Calendar)

  • The flowers bloom in March or April and stay in bloom only about two to three weeks.
  • The forsythia's flowers bloom so early, the plant's own leaves haven't even popped out when the flowers are open.
  • The rest of the year, the plants don't look like much. But they sure are a welcome sight in early spring.
  • If you really want to see the forsythia bloom in the winter, you can force them. Cut off a few of the branches all the way to the stem, bring them inside, and put them in a vase with water.  After only a few weeks, the branches will bloom into those characteristic bright yellow flowers.
  • Some people use them as "border" plants, a whole bunch of them in a row. When not in bloom, they provide a natural screen.  When in bloom, the effect of so many forsythia blooming all in a row can be pretty spectacular.

Forsythia grown in a border
(Photo from The Gardener's Network)

  • You can grow forsythia bushes from branch cuttings. Cut a 3- to 6-inch branch and put the end in moist soil.  Over the next 3 weeks or so, keep the soil moist until the branch develops roots.
  • Once the branch has grown roots, you can plant it any time.  However, the time of year when they'll like it the best is in the winter, when they are dormant.
  • They also like the soil to be moist, but well-drained.

Because they're easy to care for and because of their bright, cheerful flowers, forsythias are a favorite with home landscapers.
(Photo from Home Interiors Junction)

  • You don't have to prune them, but because they grow so fast, you'll probably want to.  Forsythia plants have it in them to grow as large as 7 or even 10 feet tall.

Dwarf forsythias are a popular variety because they can be grown in tight spaces. The dwarf will only reach about 2-4 feet high.
(Photo from Brighter Blooms)

    • It's best to cut back the branches right after they've finished blooming, in still early spring.  Cut off the oldest branches, not all but about 1/4 to 1/3 of them.  Choose the ones that are rubbing against each other and ones that are curving back in toward the center.  Also remove ones that are hanging down so that they are touching or close to the ground. 
    • Cut the branches down as close to the ground as you can get, or at least within 4 inches of the ground.  This will encourage new growth which will sprout in a more compact arrangement.
    • Even if you cut the entire shrub to the base, new canes will sprout the next spring, and by the following year, you'll have a whole, blooming forsythia again.
    • Keep in mind, those newer branches won't bloom the first year.  When it's pruning time, you'll know not to cut the branches that didn't bloom.

    Bluebirds are a welcome sight, too. A bluebird on a forsythia branch must surely be the best kind of good luck.
    (You can buy a print of this photo from Marie Read Wildlife Photography for $45)

    About Forsythia
    David Beaulieu, Forsythia Bushes - Plants That Herald Spring,
    U Conn Plant Database, Forsythia x intermedia (Border Forsythia)
    Flower Gardening Made Easy, How to Prune Forsythia
    The Gardener's Network, How to Grow and Care for Forsythia Bushes
    The Garden Helper, How to Grow and Care for a Golden Bells Forsythia Plant

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Apple #510: Ligers

    A relatively new reader of the Daily Apple has asked me if I would do an entry on ligers.  When I pointed out that I discussed them briefly in an entry on cross-bred animals, he said that wasn't enough.  He wanted more.

    Pah.  Ligers deserve more than a picture.  And a better one than that.  I would humbly suggest a whole apple on them (along with their offshoots).  The coolest thing about them is that they are HUGE compared to lions, tigers, or other combinations.  So huge that they can't really survive on their own - they'd get too pooped trying to catch prey.  And zoos won't display them since they're "fake", so they only exist where individuals have the resources to make them and keep them on their own.  Also, I remember seeing a whole Liger / Tigon chart.  It starts with lions and tigers at the top, then get different names with each successive cross-bred combination.  Like Litigers and Tiligons and stuff like that.  And Ligers are very specific - mom has to be one, dad has to be another.  That's the difference between a Liger and a Tigon.

    OK, Mr. Humbly Suggest.  Here are your ligers.

    This gives you an idea of how big a liger can get.  With this particular liger, the fur is the color of a lion's but has the stripes of a tiger. Some ligers may be more orange in color, or have a more obvious mane around the face.
    (Photo from truthorfiction)

    • The first thing to know, as Mr. Humbly Suggest has already said, is that ligers are the result of a male lion mating with a female tiger.
    • (Female lion plus male tiger = tigon.)
    • Ligers like to swim, which is true of tigers but not lions. Some handlers report that ligers are confused the first few times they're presented with water, as if their lion part wants nothing to do with water while their tiger part does.
    • Ligers grow to be larger than either a lion or a tiger.  Some get to be as big as 800 or 1,000 pounds.

    This is either Sinbad or Hercules. Both are among the biggest ligers at T.I.G.E.R.S., a place which regularly breeds ligers and other exotic, cross-bred animals.
    (Photo from T.I.G.E.R.S.)

    • By comparison, a captive tiger would be unlikely to reach 650 pounds.
    • Ligers get to be so big because they're lacking some growth-inhibiting gene.  Or maybe there are 3 or 4 of those genes that are missing.  Sources conflict on this point, probably because researchers aren't really sure what's going on at the genetic level.
    • Their size means that adult ligers eat a ton of meat -- well, maybe not a ton. They eat about 50 pounds of raw meat in a single meal.
    • But since these animals don't exist in the wild, they've never caught their own food but always lived in confined areas.  As a result, they're not very good at catching prey.  Either they get worn out, or their muscles simply aren't up to the task of moving such enormous bulk at speeds necessary to catch and kill enough food to feed themselves.

    This is a liger named Freckles.  Looks Photoshopped, doesn't it?  But no, that's a real liger.
    (Photo from Big Cat Rescue)

    • Usually ligers are sterile, but every once in a great while, a female liger might turn out to be fertile.  
    • You could mate her with a male lion or a male tiger, but never a male liger.  This is because there has never been any such thing as a fertile male liger.
    • Here are some of the combinations that are possible from breeding lions and tigers and their cross-bred offspring:
        • M lion + F tiger = liger
        • M tiger + F lion = tigon
        • M lion + F liger = li-liger
        • M lion + F tigon = li-tigon
        • M tiger + F liger = ti-liger
        • M tiger + F tigon = ti-tigon
        • M liger = 0
        • M tigon = 0
    • Lions and tigers in the wild live in very different places -- basically, one lives in Africa and the other in India -- so on their own, they wouldn't mate and reproduce offspring.  If you see such a thing as a liger or a tigon, it's the result of a person getting involved in the mating and breeding of the big cats.
    • Here's what one site has to say about breeding ligers and tigons:
    Respectable zoos frown on the breeding of hybrids such as ligers and tigons, as they have no value from a conservation point of view and are taking up space and resources that could be used to breed endangered species. They are basically freaks bred by unscrupulous zoos in order to make money out of people willing to pay to see them. 
    • Often the young ligers have serious birth defects and don't live long after birth. Some develop neurological disorders such as head shakes, and these young ligers don't live long either.
    • In addition, since the ligers are larger than their parents, they may grow too large even in the womb. So the tigresses who carry them have to undergo C-section deliveries or may even die in the process of giving birth to a liger.

    These liger cubs were born in a zoo in Taiwan in 2010. The tiger mother rejected them, so they had to be hand-raised by zoo staff.  The Taiwan zoo maintains that the breeding of these cubs was "accidental," as a result of the tigers and lions living in the same enclosure.  Conservation groups said they didn't care whether it was accidental or not, that these cubs represented a violation of the Wildlife Conservation Law, and that the zoo should be fined.  I couldn't find an update about the story to learn whether the zoo had actually paid the fine or not.

    • Big Cat Rescue asks, if you agree that the breeding of ligers (and tigons) is irresponsible and not actually animal-friendly, and if you see a liger at a zoo or on TV, that you contact Big Cat Rescue or notify your local media.

    Sorry, Mr. Requester, but it sounds like this is another instance when bigger is not necessarily better.

    Sources, What Is a Liger?
    Big Cat Rescue, Ligers
    Tiger Territory, Ligers
    Los Angeles Times, Your morning adorable: controversial baby ligers in Taiwan, August 16, 2010
    BBC, Taiwan zoo faces fine over 'liger' cubs, August 16, 2010