This story was first published on January 21st, 2014
Circulating message that features a photograph depicting a lion, a tiger and a bear together claims that the animals were rescued from a drug dealer’s property early in their lives and have lived together in an animal sanctuary ever since.
The claims in the message are true and the photograph is genuine. The animals were rescued back in 2001 and moved to the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, in Georgia USA, where they have lived together ever since.
Update: December 20, 2018
Sadly, the lion and tiger have died since this report was first published (details below).
A lion and tiger and bear!
As cubs a lion, a tiger, and a bear had been owned by a drug dealer who did not properly care for them. The bear’s harness grew into his skin because the owner did not alter it as the animal grew. They had been abused and neglected early in life, but were finally rescued. The bear’s harness was surgically removed.
After they had been taken in by an animal sanctuary in Georgia, the staff tried to separate them due to obvious concerns that the three large predators would fight. During the trial of separation, the animals were uncooperative and behaved poorly. Once reunited, the three calmed down and were well behaved.
Twelve years later, the three friends spend their days playing, cuddling, and eating together. There are no plans to separate these lifelong friends.
This report, which circulates via social media posts and blogs, tells the tale of three unlikely companions, a lion, a bear and a tiger, who, for years, have lived together at an animal sanctuary.
The report explains that, back in 2001, the animals were rescued as cubs from the property of a drug dealer who did not look after them properly. The report goes on to say that the trio has spent the intervening years together.
The claims in the report are factual and the photograph is genuine. The animals were rescued and moved to the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia, USA in 2001.
A December 2013 Huffington Post article about the animals notes:
An American black bear, a Bengal tiger and an African lion were the victims of animal cruelty, according to Imgur, but the ending of their story will leave you believing in fate.
Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger (all three known as BLT) were brought together as 2-month-old cubs and have grown up as a family.
The trio was originally owned by a drug dealer who didn’t properly care for them, leading to neglect, poor health and severe injuries.
And, back in December 2009, The Telegraph also posted about the trio, noting:
Rescued eight years ago during a police drugs raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time and barely two months old.
They had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah’s Ark animal rescue centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the youngsters together.
“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).
Soon after the animals first arrived at the sanctuary, the bear had to be separated from his pals for medical treatment. The lion and tiger exhibited behavioural issues due to the separation, but all three settled down happily after the bear was returned.
For a time, there were concerns that the animals might have to be permanently separated due to new government regulation stipulating the fence height of big cat enclosures. However, through diligent online fund-raising efforts, the sanctuary was able to build a new fence so that the animal friends could continue sharing the same enclosure.
Update: December 20, 2018
Sadly, Leo and Shere Khan have died since this article was first published. An announcement on the Noah’s Ark website notes:
It is with shattered hearts that we tell you our precious Shere Khan has joined his brother Leo in Heaven. Test results came in this morning (12/18) and confirmed there was absolutely nothing else that could be done for our sweet boy, and the kindest gift we could give him was the gift of freedom from the body that was no longer functioning as it should.
The announcement also notes that the organization has a bereavement plan in place for Baloo the bear to help him cope with the loss of his last brother.