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World’s largest cat basks in Myrtle Beach area

By Steve Palisin
spalisin@thesunnews.com

Morris the Cat wouldn’t have one paw, let alone one claw, up on Hercules, the world’s largest living feline.

This liger – a hybrid of a lion and tiger – tips the scales at 922 pounds, and now into the 2014 edition of the “Guinness World Records” book, published Thursday ( www.guinnessworldrecords.com).

Sara Wilcox, public relations and marketing executive for New York-based Guinness World Records North America, said Hercules lives at Myrtle Beach Safari, an area wildlife preserve ( www.myrtlebeachsafari.com). She cited two other vitals of the big cat: a total length of 131 inches, and a height of 49 inches at the shoulder.

The safari is known as TIGERS – The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species. Tours are given by reservation. It’s owned by Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who also founded the Rare Species Fund ( www.rarespeciesfund.org) in 1982 to help endangered wildlife around the world, such as other big cats as well as elephants, rhinoceroses and orangutans.

Antle was not available for comment for this article, but Wilcox said he furnished Guinness a summary of Hercules’ traits.

Hercules was born among a litter of four in November 2001 at the preserve.

He consumes 20 to 25 pounds of meat daily and has favorite logs that he uses to sharpen his claws.

He has traveled coast to coast with Antle to promote wildlife conservation.

Antle told Guinness officials that Hercules melds two worlds by being brave like a tiger and social like a lion, hence his affinity for interaction.

Antle also shared with Guinness that as a cub, Hercules had a big head into which he grew with age, and that if he’s averse to doing something, he simply sits down.

Recounting how Hercules has reacted to a rare snowfall on the Grand Strand, Antle told Guinness that he rolled around in the accumulation, enough to make a giant liger snow angel.

Wilcox said Guinness happened upon Hercules through a consultant, and that Hercules sets a precedent in the book’s records.

Guinness officials had known of “generic liger cat breeds” but that “not a specific cat” occupied a record as the largest living cat, until Hercules.

“We just knew that the largest living cat probably was the liger,” Wilcox said. “We have not measured a liger before. … We are aware of other ligers.”

Wilcox said each edition of Guinness World Records contains as many as 4,000 records and that about 3,000 are set or broken, then updated for publishing, every year. Some records, such as the world’s largest man, keep their place for a long time.

The 2014 edition will include some technological bonus material, Wilcox said.

Palisin: 843-444-1764
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