There are 20 habitats that you will see along our guided-tour loop here at Turpentine Creek, but few are as memorable as the habitat of Glacier and Ungowwa. Why, you might ask? Because these two are completely different species! Glacier is a male white tiger, while Ungowwa is a female lioness!
We do not introduce any of our big cats to animals they’ve never met before, meaning that odd pairings like Glacier and Ungowwa are a rarity for us! These two lived together at a facility in Indiana before their rescue in 2020. The owner of this facility had ties to the Tiger King, and over 100 animal welfare violations against him. In total, we rescued 4 lions (Ungowwa, Savanna, Mauri, and Chief) and 4 tigers (Glacier, Miles, Avalanche, and Hurricane) from the Indiana Facility, and have dubbed these animals the Indiana Eight.
We believe these two were kept together to create lion-tiger hybrids: in this case, an elusive white tigon. However, you would not see animals like this out in the wild, since lions live in Africa, and tigers live in Asia! Both lions and tigers can be territorial as well, so even if a lion and tiger ever did meet each other in the wild, it’s more likely that they would fight each other than be friendly! But, Glacier and Ungowwa get along with each other well, which is why they continue to live together here!
Lions and tigers have very different personalities, which can raise more issues with them coexisting. Lions are social animals that live in prides of up to 100 individuals, while tigers are more solitary! Tigers are fans of cooler weather and the water, but lions thrive in dry, desert heat! Since they’ve lived together for so long, these two have actually started to pick up traits from the other’s species!
Glacier is incredibly social for a tiger, while Ungowwa is a much more introverted lion. He will come up to her and start rubbing his head on her to cuddle, and Ungowwa will either 1) growl at him, 2) run away or 3) steal his spot. As you might be able to guess from the picture, Ungowwa can be a little grumpy when Glacier invades her personal space. But, from time to time she will let him snuggle up!
Living in Indiana, Ungowwa is more used to the colder temperatures than many of our lions here at TCWR. Not only is she used to the cold, but she actually loves to join Glacier playing in the snow! Her enclosure has a large hill, and she will slide down it like a sled when there’s dry snow on the ground!
Glacier and Ungowwa share a habitat on our tour loop, meaning you can view them from our public tram tour. So, next time you are taking a tour, remember to keep an eye out for this quirky couple!