The World’s First and Only BLT Team: Bear, Lion and Tiger Brothers That Never Left Each Other’s Side for 15 Years
Solid proof that true love doesn’t know size, species, or color.
So many times we’ve seen unique animal friendships that bring warm smiles to our faces. Dogs and birds, cats and fish, and of course, Audree and Herbee, the famous Bengal kitten and hedgehog melting hearts on Instagram. These special animals found love and friendship outside their own kind, and we can never get tired of seeing these inspiring companionships.
In 2016, three members of a highly unusual brotherhood went viral online, and until today, people haven’t stopped gushing over the sweet friendship of  Baloo, an American black bear, Leo, an African lion, and Shere Khan, an Indian Bengal tiger, the stars of Noah’s ark Animal Shelter, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia.
Out in the wild, these three who come from different species and continents could never have come together and would have probably torn each other apart if their paths crossed.
However, the BLT brothers were rescued as cubs in Atlanta in 2001 following a drug raid in a house where they were kept in the basement. The animals were severely abused and tortured, and they were too injured to be rehabilitated and let back into the wild. They were taken to the sanctuary where they started their exciting new lives together.
Rescued and rehabilitated
Each young cub was brought out of the terrible basement with its own set of injuries. Shere Khan the tiger was severely underweight and so malnourished that his skeletal system was visible. Leo the lion had been stuck in a cage that was far too small for his size, causing him to develop an open wound on his nose that was badly infected. Baloo the bear was in the worst condition. He had an ingrown harness that hadn’t adjusted as he’d increased in size, and so his flesh began to grow around it, leaving the poor animal in devastating pain.
The only time the animals were ever separated was when Baloo had to have reconstructive surgery to remove the harness. After that, for the next 15 years that followed, the animals remained the closest of friends and were never apart for a minute. The injuries and harsh conditions they’d suffered as cubs canceled all hopes of letting them back into the wild, but they were happy and comfortable in the sanctuary.
Even in death, they’ll always be brothers
On August 11th, 2016, Leo the lion sadly placed away from cancer of the liver at the age of 15.  The neutered lion had been ill for a while and when the doctors tried to operate, they found that 80% of his liver was filled with inoperable masses and the only option was let him go. Leo got to bid his brothers farewell before he passed on. It was hard to watch him go, but the sanctuary made sure Baloo and Shere Khan were well taken care of as they grieved.
Hearts were further broken on December 18, 2018, when Shere Khan the tiger passed away at the age of 17 from a brain tumor that badly affected his bodily functions.  Shere Khan died on his straw-filled sleeping area with Baloo holding onto him sadly.
Baloo has remained alone ever since and he prefers it that way. The sanctuary gave an update on Facebook about his welfare in February 2019, shortly after Shere Khan’s passing.
“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.”
The bear prefers to roam the enclosure his own with just the memories of his dear brothers keeping him company.
With over 1,500 animals in their care, Noah’s Ark is one of the largest non-profit animal sanctuaries in the United States. For over 40 years, hundreds of animals across dozens of species are brought in every year to be rehabilitated, and while many are released back into the wild, others have to remain on the grounds for life. The sanctuary is volunteer-run and depends on visitor fees and donations to provide shelter, food, and health care to the animals. Click HERE to see how you can donate to the wonderful cause.
- “Bear, Lion, And Tiger Brothers Haven’t Left Each Other’s Side For 15 Years.” Bored Panda. LMA. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- “Meet Leo.” Noah’s Ark. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- “Update: Shere Khan, beloved Bengal tiger, dies.” AJC. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- ” How A Lion, Tiger And Bear Became Ride-Or-Die Friends.” HuffPost. Carla Herreria Russo. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
- Noah’s Ark.
- Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.
- “Ways to Help.” Noah’s Ark.Retrieved June 5, 2020.