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Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger were rescued together during a drug raid in Atlanta in 2001, when they were only a few months old. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources took the cubs, who were all scared, malnourished and infected with parasites, to the 250-acre nonprofit animal rescue, and their lives were transformed.
When their story was shared on Facebook 15 years later, it was clear to see that they were BFFs.
“Baloo (bear), Leo (lion), and Shere Khan (tiger) are collectively known as ‘the BLT’ (Bear, Lion, & Tiger),” the caption read. “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.”
From the start, the three predators showed signs of a strong bond.
“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,” Hedgecloth said.
This wasn’t too much of a surprise, but what was more unexpected was the enduring friendship that continued throughout the years.
“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. “What was surprising is how they kept that bond, that family unit well into adulthood.”
Even though Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan lived in a three-acre enclosure, it was common to find them within 100 feet of each other.
“That’s proof that they’re not just coexisting or cohabiting, they actually do enjoy each other’s company,” Hedgecloth told Inside Edition.
Here’s another Facebook post from Noah’s Ark showing the three hanging out together.
Sadly, Leo died in 2016 and Shere Khan in 2018, leaving “gentle giant” Baloo as the only surviving member of the original trio. However, this Facebook post from after Shere Kahn’s passing says the two animals were buried together in the habitat where they enjoyed spending time and where Baloo still lives, so they still remain together.
Fortunately, Baloo is still kicking and in fact celebrated his 21st birthday on July 13, 2022, according to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary:
The trio made quite an impression on the animal lovers of the world, proving to us all that sometimes, friendships are formed in the most unlikely places.