Baloo is an American black bear, Leo is an African lion and Shere Khan is a Bengal tiger.
The three were all rescued by Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary when they were less than one year old.
Legend says that the three were found back in 2001 when a drug dealer’s house got raided by the police in Atlanta, Georgia. When the police searched the basement, they found three frightened and malnourished cubs that were infected with parasites. Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary stepped in to help save the unlikely trio.
Baloo, the American black bear, was in the worst condition of the three cubs rescued with a severely ingrown harness digging into his flesh because it was never loosened as he grew in size. The harness was so ingrown that his flesh had begun to grow over and around it, and surgical intervention was required to remove the harness and clean his deep, infected wounds.
Baloo is a very confident and relaxed bear and will do anything for a sweet treat.
Shere Khan the tiger was underweight and malnourished, but with the treatment of his parasites and a healthy diet, he began to regain his cub like energy and appetite, as well as to increase in weight.
The last member of the trio was Leo. Panthera leo did not have a mane because he had been neutered at birth, as had his colleagues. This playful lion captured the hearts of animal lovers around the world.
The trio became known as BLT, the bear, lion, and tiger. Whil living in the wild these three would never meet, forget about live together. Thanks to the sanctuary, they’d spend the rest of their days on a beautiful 250-acre property. They’d already been through too much in their short lives to ever be released back into the wild.
“The BLT (bear, lion, tiger ― as they are known) exhibited signs of being a bonded trio from the moment we saw them when they arrived at Noah’s Ark,” Allison Hedgecoth, curator at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary where the predators live, told The Huffington Post .
While their initial bond wasn’t unusual to Hedgecoth the enduring, 15-year friendship of BLT was.
“Before they reach sexual maturity, a lot of times animals will form unique bonds with members of other species,” she told BBC, explaining that animals typically grow apart as they get older. “ What was surprising is how they kept that bond, that family unit well into adulthood .”
Their friendship was so strong, the sanctuary even chose to keep all three in the same habitat.
Their habitat is about 3 acres, yet you can usually find all 3 brothers fairly close to each other the majority of the time. They eat together, play together, and even catnap together.
Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan have been inseparable ever since.
Sadly, in 2016, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary said goodbye to their beloved Leo, the “BLT” trio lion was15-years-old and had been falling ill. He was extremely fatigued, refused to eat, unable to defecate, and a myriad of other symptoms. He was given multiple tests, but there was no obvious problem.
With no options left, the veterinarians opted for exploratory surgery. During surgery, it was discovered that over 80% of Leo's liver was full of inoperable masses and because of this, the heart wrenching decision was made to let him go.
Two years later, Shere Khan died in the arms of his main caregiver with Baloo nearby. The feistiest of the bunch, Shere Khan was known to playfully pounce on his friends and groom them as well.
Shere Khan wasn't eating and drinking as much as he should and was lethargic. The veterinary team and caretakers monitored him around-the-clock while Baloo stayed nearby to comfort his friend.Test results came in that confirmed there was absolutely nothing else that could be done for the sweet boy, and the kindest gift sactuary could give him was the gift of freedom from the body that was no longer functioning as it should.
Allison Hedgecoth, animal husbandry manager for Noah's Ark, tells MNN , "I know it was the right thing to do, but I am still heartbroken and can’t imagine not seeing him every day."
"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"
Baloo is the last of the remaining trio still alive today. Many of followers asked Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary if another animal would 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," they write on Facebook.
"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."
If you would like to honor the BLT trio, please consider donating to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, which is solely run on donations. The facility houses more than 1,500 animals representing 100 species. It costs approximately $33,000 per month to feed and care for the animals.