CNN.com Transcripts ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Coming up next on 360, far lighter stories. We want to make you smile going into the weekend. Check out this big cat. It's not a tiger, it's not a lion, it's called a liger. That's right, it's not just (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We'll have one ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you drawing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A liger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's a liger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed. Known for its skills in magic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That clip was from the funny movie "Napoleon Dynamite." Pretty much lets the cat out of the bag where our next story is concerned -- not that you could get a cat this size into a bag, per se. Anyway.
No wonder crowds have gathered to gawk down at Miami's Parrot Jungle (ph) Island. Take a look at what they are gawking at.
BHAGOVAN ANTLE: Who is that? Who is that guy, huh?
COOPER (voice-over): Meet Hercules the liger, and his trainer, Dr. Bhagavan Antle.
So what exactly is a liger? Well, for starters...
ANTLE: Hercules is a liger because his mother is a tiger and his father is a lion.
COOPER: That coupling produces the world's largest cat.
ANTLE: This big guy is about 900 pounds and he's almost 12 feet tall.
COOPER: But what if the mother was a lion, the father a tiger?
ANTLE: He would be a tigon, and he'd be a dwarf. COOPER: A dwarf like this cub, who won't grow bigger than 350 pounds.
For Hercules, the opposite happened, and in this mixed breed everything is super sized.
ANTLE: Ligers like this have incredible teeth. He seems to have the teeth of both his mother and father combined.
COOPER: Which he can use to eat up to a hundred pounds of meat in a single sitting. That is, when he isn't drinking a bottle.
Because after all, his trainer says he's really just a big baby. He's expected to keep growing until he reaches a thousand pounds.
COOPER: And joining us live in Miami to talk about the magnificent creature of his is Dr. Bhagavan Antle, director of the Institute of Greatly Endangers and Rare Species. Dr. thanks for being with us. Is that Hercules there?
ANTLE: This is Hercules, my little Liger boy about 900 pounds of kitty cat.
COOPER: How did this happen? How did Hercules come about. I mean, this doesn't happen in the wild, obviously, lions and tigers live in separate places and don't normally hook up.
ANTLE: Well, for us, you know, we have a lot of big cats that we use for different wildlife educational performances like what we do here at Parrot Jungle Island. And we have these big free roaming areas that they are able to exercise and play around in. Out there, there was this one lion boy that decided he liked a tiger girl far better than we really planned on. And we reproduced some ligers. This is how Hercules popped up.
COOPER: Hercules certainly like -- seems to like milk an awful lot there. I hope you don't run out of that milk soon. What -- they get different things from -- obviously lions and tigers are very different. What traits does Hercules have from the lion side and what traits from the tiger side?
ANTLE: You know, we're very fortunate with him in a lot of his attributes like that. He's got a lot of the social things that lions do. Lions are more social and they want to touch more and they are able to be a lot more communicative than a lot of tigers are. So, Hercules here is able to have that ability to be petted and come up and say hi to you.
But then he's not so ferocious. Lions as they mature become so ferocious, tigers are a little more mild mannered. So, you kind of get the best of both worlds in him psychologically that you do in this incredible look, as well. Got his mom's stripes, but the tawny color of his dad.
COOPER: He's such a beautiful animal.
You know, there are those who say that tigers shouldn't be tamed and domesticated. You know, there's concern about a black market of exotic animals. Something that we're going to be looking at next week. How would you respond to those who say you shouldn't own a tiger? This shouldn't be done?
ANTLE: I mean I absolutely don't think that anyone should have a pet tiger. I don't think that's really a good thing, that you you need one in your local neighborhood. I think this is America you should be able to do anything you want within bounds and with permits and stuff like that.
But Hercules isn't my pet, he's an educational tool that is used for wildlife conservation. The shows at Parrot Jungle Island that we work on have a whole system of talking to the public and creating the opportunity for them to see animals up close and uncaged.
I think that the bond that people get by seeing animals not sleeping, or pacing in cages, creates a different idea for them. And that they are much more interested in what you have to say. He's an ambassador to teach people about ideas of conservation, reduce, reuse, renew, reducing your consumption and reusing what you've got.
COOPER: Let me ask you, how big is that tongue?
ANTLE: That's a long tongue. I bet it comes out about 10 inches if he wants to. He loves this baby bottle. He had a bottle since he was a baby and we just kept him on it. So this is his treat.
COOPER: And he eats up to like 100 pounds of meat a day, is that possible?
ANTLE: He can eat 100 pounds in a single sitting, but it will make him gain extra weight. So, we keep him at around 20 to 25 pounds, beef or chicken, with a special vitamin and mineral mix on it. And that keeps him in open minimal health.
If you gave him a hundred pounds he would weigh 1500 pounds, but he wouldn't be able to walk around too well.
COOPER: Hey, Dr. Antle, appreciate you joining with Hercules. Just unbelievable beautiful animal there, a liger. Thanks very much, doctor.