It’s always incredible to see friendships form between animals of different species, but one story might be the most inspiring, as three mighty animals formed an bond that would last a lifetime.
Meet Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger, and Baloo the bear — three animals who became inseparable after being rescued together from awful conditions.
Their story has a heartbreaking beginning: back in 2001, the three animals were kept in confinement in a drug dealer’s basement in Atlanta.
The animals, just months old at the time, faced horrible conditions and treatment. Baloo was kept in a harness that was far too tight and dug deep into his skin as he grew up in captivity. All three animals were found to have parasites.
But through this shared trauma, the animals formed an unlikely bond.
Thankfully the animals were freed after a police investigation, and after receiving treatment were brought to Noah’s Ark.
Now safe in the sanctuary, something incredible happened: the lion, tiger and bear remained close friends. It was something no one had ever seen before.
“Before they reach sexual maturity, a lot of times animals will form unique bonds with members of other species, so that didn’t surprise us that much,” Hedgecloth told the BBC. (All three animals are male—Leo doesn’t have a mane because he was neutered at an early age)
“What was surprising is how they kept that bond, that family unit well into adulthood.”
While plenty of room to roam in the 250-acre sanctuary, the animal trio—who became known as BLT, for bear, lion and tiger—always chose to spend time with each other.
They had different personality types—Shere Khan was the mischievous one who liked to sneak up on his brothers, while Baloo was a “gentle giant”—but there was nothing but love between these three.
“They live together, sleep together, and even eat together as a family,” the sanctuary wrote on Facebook.
The BLT trio remained inseparable friends for years. As their inspiring story spread, they became the sanctuary’s most famous and beloved residents.
“Their genuine love and affection for each other shines through every day for us here at The Ark who are privileged to know and care for this amazing group of animals,” Noah’s Ark wrote.
Sadly, two of the animals have since passed away. Leo died in August 2016, and Shere Khan died in 2018, leaving Baloo the only survivor.
And it seems his friends were irreplaceable: Baloo doesn’t want any companionship from the other bears or big cats, preferring a solitary life.
While the trio may be no more, we know this friendship meant everything to these three animals, helping them survive a terrible ordeal and recover together in their sanctuary.
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