A close friendship between unlikely creatures is warming the hearts of people all over the world as they witness bias and differences put aside.
A lot can be learned from the lion, tiger and bear who forged a long lasting friendship. Pushing primal desires away, these three rescue animals can teach us a few lessons in looking after one another and fulfilling the desire to connect offline.
Over the years we’ve seen friendships forged between unlikely animals, including a hen taking care of some puppies, and in Australia, a baby joey and wombat. Now, an African lion, Bengal tiger and an American black bear have found in each other a comforting friendship.
Known as the BLT crew, Black bear Baloo, Leo the lion, and tiger Shere Khan were rescued during a 2001 drug raid in Atlanta. Incredibly, the then cubs were found in horrendous conditions, hidden away in a dark basement. After the raid, the trio moved to Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter in Georgia, where they shared an enclosure to enjoy peaceful lives.
Unfortunately, in August 2016, Leo did pass away from inoperable liver cancer. Leo was buried beside the clubhouse, where the animals shared a favourite spot to relax, and keepers kept a close eye on Baloo and Shere Khan to see that they received plenty of extra attention.
Shere Khan was malnourished when he was rescued from the basement, but responded well to the grooming and affection from his sidekicks. Despite the most outgoing of the trio loving life, he also suffered health problems and was diagnosed with inter-vertebral disc disease in 2014.
Sadly, the condition deteriorated and in late 2018, a decision was made to end Shere Khan’s pain after tests revealed nothing more could be done for him. He was buried next to Leo.
“Shere Khan passed away in the arms of his main caregiver, inside his straw filled tunnel with Baloo nearby. He heard soft words of adoration whispered in his ear and felt the warmth of loving, comforting strokes on his beautiful face as he very peacefully closed his big green eyes and took his last breath,” an announcement from Noah’s Ark website read.
Noah’s Ark went on to say Baloo would be watched closely and monitored:
“We have a bereavement plan in place for Baloo and will be monitoring him closely to ensure that losing his last brother doesn’t take an adverse physical toll on his health. He was with Shere Khan this morning every step of the way and will be present for his burial as well, just like he was for Leos burial.”
Baloo’s status has been updated since, noting that Baloo, although solitary in his company, is doing okay.
“Many of our followers have asked if another animal will be introduced to Baloo for companionship, and for now the answer is no. Baloo is a big, dominant male who has lived in his enclosure for over a decade. Black bears are typically solitary and always territorial, particularly the males. Baloo doesn’t appreciate the presence of other big cats or bears we have, and will even display aggressive behavior toward his animal neighbors. Serious injuries or death can occur when introducing animals to one another, and the last thing we want is for something to happen to our most precious Baloo bear.”