Lion, tiger, and bear were rescued together as cubs—15 years later, they’re still best friends

October 21st, 2020

It is often said that tough times can bring you closer together, and that is certainly the case for this next story. Wild animals can be territorial, defensive, and are wired to be predators – so if they’re not surrounded by others of their kind, then they will likely operate alone.

Some of the most dangerous predators live in the wild, and lions, tigers, and bears are up there as the most deadly. So when a story came out about a lion, tiger, and bear who were the best of friends, we had to stop and do a double-take.

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The unlikely trio were rescued together when they were just cubs, and ever since then, they have had an unbreakable bond. The three first shot to online fame when the sanctuary that they live in began sharing photos of their close friendship online, and since then people all over the world have fallen in love with them.

Back in 2001, a lion, tiger, and bear cub were found together during a drug raid in Atlanta in 2001, when they were only a few months old. They were all scared, malnourished, and infected with parasites, so after urgent veterinary treatment, the three were taken to the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia.

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The three best friends settled happily into life at the sanctuary, and 15 years later, their story was shared onto Facebook for the world to see.

“Baloo (bear), Leo (lion), and Shere Khan (tiger) are collectively known as ‘the BLT’ (Bear, Lion, & Tiger),” the sanctuary wrote. “They were rescued together back in 2001 from a drug dealer’s basement, and have been together ever since. Their habitat is about 3 acres, yet you can usually find all 3 brothers fairly close to each other the majority of the time. They eat together, play together, and even catnap together.”

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From the very beginning, the predators proved everybody wrong and showed signs of having a strong bond. And as they grew, it only solidified more and more.

“When they were first brought to the sanctuary, Baloo, Shere Khan and Leo were injured, frightened and clinging to one another for comfort,” Noah’s Ark curator Allison Hedgecoth told The Huffington Post. “They were already seeking out one another for comfort and displayed affection by snuggling, grooming and playing with one another,” Allison said.

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What wasn’t surprising was the friendship that the three had developed as cubs; it was the fact that this friendship remained even as they each grew into adulthood.

“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,” Allison told the BBC. “What was surprising is how they kept that bond, that family unit well into adulthood.”

Baloo (bear), Leo (lion), and Shere Khan (tiger) are collectively known as “the BLT” (Bear, Lion, & Tiger). They were…

Posted by Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary on Thursday, 14 July 2016

When each of them reached adulthood, the BLT continued to show affection for each other, and were often seen snuggling up or playing together. Even though Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan lived in a three-acre enclosure, they spent most of their time within close proximity with each other, like they had done when they were cubs.

“That’s proof that they’re not just coexisting or cohabiting, they actually do enjoy each other’s company,” Allison told Inside Edition.

Our public “Celebration of Life” for Shere Khan will be Saturday, January 26th at noon, outside the BLT habitat. Rain…

Posted by Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary on Friday, 18 January 2019

The three soon became a huge talking point for the sanctuary and attracted visitors from all over. Thousands of people began to check out the sanctuary’s Facebook page, and the BLT soon became legends.

Sadly, Leo and Shere Khan have recently passed away, leaving Baloo the “gentle giant” as the only remaining member of the trio. His two best friends were buried together in an area of the sanctuary that they enjoyed hanging out in together, so Baloo will never feel too far away from his two best friends.

We think it’s amazing that these three developed such a close friendship, and it really goes to show that shared tough times can form a bond like no other.

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Source: The Huffington Post, BBC, Inside Edition