This is just
They make an unlikely trio, but
Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan
the tiger have forged an unusually strong
Considering that they would be mortal enemies if they ever
were to meet in the wild, it is stunning to see their
unique and genuine friendship in these intimate pictures.
Rescued eight years ago during a
police drugs raid in Atlanta ,Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time, barely
two months old.
They had been kept as status symbol
pets by the drug barons.
Delivered to the Noah's Ark Animal
Rescue Center in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the
youngsters together because of their budding rapport.
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 Noah's
'To our knowledge, this is the
only place where you'll find this combination of animals
Living with the zoo's founders for the past eight
years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a
purpose-built habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their
'We didn't have the money to move
them at first,' said Diane.
'Now their habitat is sorted and
they have been moved away from the children's zoo areas where the public
couldn't really get a good look.
'It is possible to see Baloo, who
is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350lb tiger and Leo, who is also 350lbs,
messing around like brothers.
'They are totally oblivious to the
fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.'
Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo's owners and
founders, the three friendly giants appear
to have no comprehension of their animal differences.
Shere Khan are very close,' says Diane.
'That is because they rise
early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day sleeping.
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.
wakes up, the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some
Surprisingly, for three apex
predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very
relaxed around each other.
'They eat, sleep and play
together,' said Jama.
'As they treat each other as siblings, they
will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for
'At the moment they are getting use to their new
'Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but
Baloo, the bear, is very good at leading him on and making
him feel comfortable and safe.' Explaining that the three 'brothers'
have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles said: 'Noah's Ark is their
home and they could not possibly be separated from each
'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.'
trio's new habitat had to be constructed carefully, in order to
accommodate its occupants.
'The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys, because they
all sleep in it together,' She
added: 'We had to include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be in