The Real Noah's Ark

LOCUST GROVE, GA - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVEShere Khan the tiger, Leo the lion and Baloo the bear play outside at the Noah Ark Rehab
LOCUST GROVE, GA - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVEShere Khan the tiger, Leo the lion and Baloo the bear play outside at the Noah Ark Rehabilitation Centre in LOCUST GROVE, GA. Known as the BLT, or Bear, Lion and Tiger, these most unusual and unlikely animal friends are having to go on a diet after being spoilt too much. For not only do Baloo the bear, Leo the Lion, and Shere Khan the tiger have an unnatural bond, they also have a remarkable appetite too. Devouring almost 100 pounds worth of meat and vegetables a week between them, the rescued big beasts had developed something of an obesity problem. Staff at Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Centre in the state of LOCUST GROVE, GA, decided to stop indulging their favoured guests and to put them on a diet after they each gained 100lbs. (Photo by Barcroft USA / Getty Images)

BLT is the only bear, lion and tiger combo living in the same enclosure, in the world. Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan were found in a drug dealer's basement in Atlanta during a police bust, where they had been abused and kept in vile conditions. They were just cubs then and destined for a grim future when a police raid on the house saved them from an abject state of living.

This was in 2001. Ever since they were taken to Noah's Ark, they have spent their days and nights together, playing together, sleeping as a pod, and even grooming each other. They rarely fight, and when they do, it's like children, never very violent, ever more than a brothers' quarrel. They are now living happy lives and will do so here until their natural death.

There are plenty of other animals at the Ark, about 1,500 total, all have been rescued from various abusive situations. But the three known as BLT are really worth a visit. The unlikely friends would never ever be seen together in the wild, one or the other would be eaten or maybe even two would be devoured. Who knows which one would be the winner? All three are large and fierce, and absolutely not species-friendly. Another proof that peace can be obtained in specimen of different kinds.

A bear, a lion and a tiger. The closest shared genre is of course the tiger and the lion, but in the jungle, they would never mingle. They would probably ignore each other and mind their own territory, or fight over food if they encountered a common prey. The bear most likely would have never met the others; this is not The Lion King the movie -- even if the tiger's name is the same. Baloo is a Black American bear, Leo is an African lion and Shere Khan is of unknown origin, but is certainly not a pet-kind.

Located south of Atlanta and open since 1978, the goal of the sanctuary is to bring children and animals together in a lofty mission about "unconditional love and care for animals who have special needs in their lives, whether mental, physical or emotional." The Ark has also fostered 400 children in the past 20 years. Existing solely on donations and sponsors, the shelter is unique and relies on visitors to add money to its mission.

More Information: No entrance fee is charged, but donations are welcome. Noah's Ark: 712 LG Griffin Road, Locust Grove, GA 30248; Phone 770-957-0888; http://www.noahs-ark.org/

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