Sunday, May 8, 2011

Three Close Friends Amazing-Man, Lion and Bear (story & pics)



They  make an unlikely trio, but Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger have  forged an unusually strong  bond.

Considering that they would be  mortal enemies if they ever were to meet in the  wild, it is stunning to see their unique and  genuine friendship in these intimate  pictures.

Rescued  eight years ago during a police drugs raid  in  Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends  were  only cubs at the time, barely two months old.  


They  had been kept as status symbol pets by the drug  barons.

Delivered  to the Noah's Ark Animal Rescue Centre in   Locust Grove , Georgia , the decision was made  to keep the youngsters together, because of  their budding rapport.

 'We could  have separated them, but since they came as a  kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them  together,' said Diane Smith, assistant director  of Noah's Ark.      

 'To our knowledge, this is the  only place where you'll find this combination of  animals together.'

 Living with the  zoo's founders for the past eight years, Shere  Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a  purpose-built habitat where the US public can  now witness first hand their touching  relationships.


'We  didn't have the money to move them at first,'  said Diane.

'Now  their habitat is sorted and they have been moved  away from the children's zoo areas where the  public couldn't really get a good  look.

'It is possible to see Baloo, who  is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350lb tiger and  Leo, who is also 350lbs, messing around like  brothers.

'They are totally oblivious to  the fact that in any other circumstance they  would not be friends.'  

Handled by  Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo's owners and  founders,
the three friendly giants appear to  have no comprehension of their animal  differences.

'Baloo and Shere Khan are  very close,' says Diane.

'That is because  they rise early, and as Leo is a lion, he 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.'  


Surprisingly  for three apex predators with the power to kill  with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they  are very relaxed around each  other.

'They  eat, sleep and play together,' said  Jama.

'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.'   

Explaining  that the three 'brothers' have always seemed to  share a unique bond,
Charles  said: 'Noah's Ark is their home and they could  not possibly be separated from each  other.

'You just have to remember who  you're dealing with when you are with them,  though.

'It's when you forget that these  fellows are wild animals that you get yourself  in trouble.'  

The trio's new  habitat had to be constructed carefully, in  order to accommodate its occupants.

Jama  said: 'The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for  the guys, because they all sleep in it  together,'  

She added: 'We had to  include a creek, because the tiger and the bear  both like to be in water.' 



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