Eight years ago, a lion, a tiger and a bear were rescued during a police drug raid in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). The cubs, 2 months old at the time, were reportedly status symbols to their owners. The young cubs were brought to the Noah’s Ark animal rescue center in Locust Grove, Georgia. They were kept together by the staff there. Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah’s Ark zoo, said: “We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together.”The three, named Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo, lived with the zookeepers at Noah’s Ark for 8 years, but have just been moved to a special facility just for them.
They are being kept together because now they would have great difficulty being separated and it is also such a touching example of what friendships can be formed if we look past our differences. In fact, part of the impetus for the move was to make them more accessible to the public, to show people what has been created among such unlikely candidates.
“[I]t is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1,000 pound bear, Shere Khan, a 350 pound tiger and Leo, who is also 350 pounds messing around like brothers.
“They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.
“Baloo and Shere Khan are very close.
“That is because they rise early, as Leo being a lion likes to spend most of the day sleeping.
“It is 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.
“When Leo wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food.”
The animals do everything together, Jama Hedgecoth, founder of Noah’s Ark zoo, says:
“They eat, sleep and play together.
“As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.
“At the moment they are getting used to their new habitat.
“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.”For Shere Khan, Leo and Baloo, the differences between them may not be so clear. However, isn’t that the point? In becoming more familiar with someone, we can see more of what we have in common than what is different between us.
Black or white, Indian or American, environmentalist or not, are we not all human? Tiger, lion, bear, or human, are we not all living animals. As the old saying goes, “Why can’t we all just get along?” If we could all just get past our differences, and respect each other as a brother or sister on this planet, what a more harmonious world we could live in. More commentary on the relationship between Shere Khan, Leo and Baloo and their new home (plus a video on the Today Show) available on the Noah’s Ark website itself, where you can also donate to help them!