Friendship is a powerful bond, and truly great friendships last a lifetime. Even for animals, among different species… friendship knows no boundaries. This was proven by a lion, bear, and a tiger, that were rescued when they were just pups from abuse and neglect.
In 2001, Shere Khan, a Bengal tiger, Leo, an African lion, and Baloo, a black bear, were saved from terrible living conditions in the basement of a drug dealer in Atlanta. The trio had been horribly maltreated and were in distress. Shere Khan was extremely malnourished and near death, Leo had a cut across his face and was imprisoned in a tiny cage, and Baloo was wearing a harness so tight that it had cut into his skin. Surely there was no reason these animals were put through such hell.
Upon their rescue, they were brought to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove. Fortunately, they were healed and got better. But because they had been through too much, they could not be released back into the wild. However, the three were not complaining. They were happy to enjoy the vast grounds of the sanctuary, and the tender love and care from the staff. It was evident that the three formed an unusually strong bond of friendship given their mutually horrible experience before their rescue. It seems that misery does love company, but in this case, positively. They enjoyed playing with each other, as well as grooming each other. The dedicated staff figured that they would eventually outgrow their affection for each other, and would need to be separated at some point, these top predators do not normally socialize with each other. But they were proven wrong, as the bond continued to get stronger even as they matured.
They spent 15 happy and memorable years together. Sadly Leo passed away in 2016, and Shere Khan followed in 2018. Baloo stayed close to his best friends until their last days, and was visibly gloomy at their burials. He carries the happy memories of his best friends, and the sanctuary staff make sure they keep him company so he won’t get depressed. Friends should learn a lot from these three unlikely threesome – friendship transcends differences, and sometimes the love and affection they have for each other is even stronger than blood.