Tigons are a hybrid cross between a male tiger and a female lion. These are man created - correction person created (I don't want to be sexist although it is always a man who does it) - wild cat hybrids. A lot of private zoo owners in America like to mess around with ad hoc big cat breeding to entertain themselves and any customers who wish to pay money to see their miserable establishments.
There are a lot of private zoos in America but they've been tarnished and discredited by Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) who has exposed them for what they are: seedy, exploitative businesses where young big cats are exploited and where their parents are disposed of when they are no longer financially profitable. Enough of my distaste about private zoos in America.
|Picture in the public domain.|
The answer to the question in the title as to whether tigons are fertile or not is that the female is often fertile but the male is invariably not fertile. There comes from Sarah Hartwell who is an expert and I trust her implicitly. Other websites and other experts say different things. The Smithsonian Magazine say that they are fertile and that second-generation hybrids are created from first-generation hybrids such as the tigon and the liger. And yet another website said that they are infertile. Clearly there is some disagreement but it seems that it's a grey area as Sarah Hartwell hints namely that some are fertile and some aren't. This probably has led to the disagreements.
Sometimes wild cat hybrids can have what is called hybrid vigour. When you crossbreed different species the resultant offspring can be larger than either of the parents. The tigon can be a large animal as shown in the photograph above. This sort of hybridisation would never occur in the wild because lions and tigers live in entirely different places and therefore never bump into each other. It is only when they are forced together in deliberate breeding in cages that they mate with each other.
It is unnatural and only done for financial profit and only viewed as a form of voyeurism from paying customers. It should be banned and probably will be banned in America because Carole Baskin is introducing new legislation which restricts ownership of big cats by Americans unless under certain specified conditions. The legislation would do away with the sort of exploitative place that I refer to and run by people such as Joe Exotic who you may remember is in prison serving a very long sentence (22 years) because he conspired to murder Carole Baskin. Joe asked Pres. Trump for a pardon! He did not get it.
They are archenemies but Carole Baskin is the good one. They are not the same sort of person which is why Baskin is annoyed at Netflix with their documentary called Tiger King which paints Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin as the same ilk. They certainly are not. Baskin saves the lives of tigers and other wild cat species from abusive private owners. She deserves a lot of recognition for what she does but she has enemies. Probably the enemies are people who like to exploit animals and don't see any reason to be decent and sensitive towards their welfare. There are a lot of people like that regrettably.
There is one last point to make which is this. Through Darwin's theory of natural selection i.e. the survival of the fittest, animals become more specialised which enhances their prospects of survival in the places where they live. They are adapted to those environments. If you dilute their genes through hybridisation the resultant offspring is less specialised and therefore less likely to survive. Therefore this form of casual hybridisation goes against nature and natural selection as described by Darwin.