Bear, Lion and Tiger Become an Inseparable Trio After a Sharing a Traumatic Past
No one can understand the phrase "opposites attract" better than this trio.
An American black bear, an African lion, and a Bengal tiger are the best of friends at the Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary (NAAS) in Locust Grove, Georgia. In fact, they're known collectively as the BLT (an acronym for bear, lion and tiger) around the rescue center.
They are so inseparable that the trio shares living quarters, which is usually dangerous for wild animals of different species, according to NAAS Curator Allison Hedgecoth.
Hedgecoth explained that the danger in placing powerful animals together is that they can often misinterpret each other. While cat species, like Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger, might be able to coexist, a different species, like Baloo the bear, might be a risky addition because their methods of communicating are completely foreign to each other.
"Even though they live in a three-acre enclosure, they're usually within 100 feet of each other," Hedgecoth explained to InsideEdition.com. "That's proof that they're not just coexisting or cohabiting, they actually do enjoy each other's company."
Further proof is that the trio prefers to eat next to each other, which is rare since their natural instinct is to be protective of their food.
But Hedgecoth said that she has no doubt the BLT are communicating perfectly, especially in the way the playful Baloo teases the stoic Leo.
"Once a day, the bear will bite the lion on the eyebrow, or he will grab his eyebrow and pull" and Leo might respond with a growl, Hedgecoth said. She compared the interaction to the way loving brothers might try to annoy or embarrass each other, adding that the animals have never injured each other.
"The tiger is very mischievous," Hedgecoth said. "He likes to sneak up behind them."
The BLT have been together for the past 15 years, partially due to having shared a traumatic past.
"They were rescued from a drug dealer's basement in Atlanta," Hedgecoth said. "They saw each other as family so they don't know any different."
All three of them had suffered severe injuries, including various internal and external parasites, but the bear's condition was by far the worst.
Hedgecoth said Baloo the bear was found strapped to a harness that had not been loosened as he matured. The harness eventually grew into Baloo's skin, and had to be surgically removed upon rescue.
Baloo's surgery was the first and the last time the BLT had been separated. Now, if any of them has to be removed for medical procedures, Hedgecoth said that they will go out of their way to bring the other two, "just as comfort."
Hedgecoth said they once had another bear and tiger share an enclosure as cubs, but noticed it was time to separate the pair as they matured two years later. However, she said that the way Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger snuggle together in their enclosure assures her that the trio will live out their days by one another's side.