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The Lion, the Bear, and the Tiger: A True Story of an Unlikely Brotherhood




  • A lion, a bear, and a tiger had lived inseparably like ‘brothers’ after they were rescued from a home in Atlanta in 2001.
  • Authorities found Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger in a storm cellar during a drug raid.
  • Then only cubs, the frightened animals needed medical attention. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources brought the trio to Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter thereafter.

They loved to play and snuggle, and they never fought. Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan bonded like ‘brothers’ after the police rescued them from the hands of a drug baron. Perhaps due to their traumatic experience, the trio deeply connected.

Famously known as the BLT –Baloo, an American black bear; Leo a lion; and Shere Khan a Bengal tiger— of Noah’s Ark Animal Santuary, the trio became inseparable since then.

Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan ate, slept, and played together.
They loved playing pranks…
But had never shown aggression towards each other.

“We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together,” said Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah’s Ark.

To our knowledge, this is the only place where you’ll find this combination
of animals together.”
According to the Noah’s Ark website, they also “seek out grooming and affection from one another, head rubbing and licking each another.”
“Their terrifying early months in life bonded the three together and they are truly inseparable despite their obvious differences.”
The police inadvertently found these three frightened, very young cubs during a drug raid at a home in Atlanta in 2001.

They were living in terrible conditions inside the drug baron’s storm cellar. Subsequently, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources took the cubs to Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter in Locust Grove, Georgia.

When they brought the cubs there, the animal sanctuary described them as ‘malnourished, and infected with internal and external parasites.’

In a desperate attempt to escape his cage, Leo’s nose rubbed against the bar and was sheared off.

Meanwhile, Shere Khan was underweight and malnourished. When they treated him for parasites and started him on a healthy diet, he soon regained his energy.

Baloo’s condition was the most severe back then. He had a harness, which had already dug deep into his flesh because it had never been loosened or removed as he grew. Baloo needed surgical intervention so they could remove the harness and disinfect his wound.

That was the only time the trio had been separated from each other.

During the surgery, Leo and Shere Khan became extremely agitated. They paced and growled as they waited for Baloo’s return, the website reported.

Baloo returned to his ‘brothers’ after the operation, and they had been together since.
Baloo is calm and very confident. He loves sweet treats.
Shere Khan, on the other hand, was considered the most mischievous amongst the gang. He loved to pounce Baloo and Leo.
He was also the most affectionate; rubbing his head and grooming his brothers multiple times within a day.
As for Leo, he loved to snuggle with Baloo and eat pineapples—his favorite snack.
Sadly, all things come to an end, and death separated the brothers.
Fifteen years later, Leo left his brothers. He died on August 11,2016. The veterinarians found multiple masses in his liver. They said it was inoperable, so they had no other option but to let him go.

In statement released by Noah’s Ark, they wrote that Baloo and Shere Khan were able to say goodbye to their brother. It was possible that they knew Leo was terminally ill even before he showed symptoms. Animals are very perceptive and because of their incredible bond, they most likely knew about it.

They buried Leo near the trio’s favorite resting place, their clubhouse.

Two years after, Shere Khan also passed away.

Baloo was with Shere Khan every step of the way until his burial, just like he was there for Leo.

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