Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh My!
In Atlanta, GA three unlikely friends were rescued when they were just cubs from drug barons after bust.
Baloo the Bear, Leo the Lion and Shere Khan the Tiger, have formed a lifelong friendship, as unlikely as it may be. Now the two 350 cats and 1,000 lbs bear share an enclosure at Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue.
After living with the Zoo’s founders for the past eight years, the unlikely trio has been moved to a large outdoor enclosure, complete with a huge clubhouse where they can relax and cuddle.
“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 the Noah’s Ark zoo.
“To our knowledge, this is the only place where you’ll find this combination of animals together, they are our BLT, (bear, lion and tiger).
Their handlers are Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo’s owners and founders. The trio is mostly oblivious to the fact that they are natural enemies.
“Baloo and Shere Khan are very close,” says Diane.
“That is because they rise early, as Leo being a lion likes to spend most the day sleeping.
“It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal tiger and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.
“As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.” Jama observes. “At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat.”
“They are obviously not wild animals any more,” said Charles.
“Noah’s Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.
“You just have to remember who you’re dealing with when you are with them though.
“It’s when you forget that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble.”
Their extra-strong clubhouse is designed to support their combined one-ton of weight and the enclosure includes a creek as the tiger and bear both enjoy the water. The enclosure cost an estimated £15,000 (approximately $25,000 USD).