Friends are one of the most important things in life. Our friends provide us happiness and support in a number of different ways, and many of us don’t know what we would do without them. Friendship isn’t just a human concept. Animals have friends, too. But very few animals have a friendship like the three you’re going to learn about here. Recently, the internet went crazy when they learned about this friendship between a lion, a tiger, and a bear (oh my!). These three were inseparable for over a decade until tragedy intervened to separate them.
Read on to learn more about this adorable and heartbreaking story.
#12 Tough Beginnings
The strange but adorable story of these furry friends began back in 2001. After a drug raid on a house in Atlanta, police went into the basement and found something that shocked them. They found three caged exotic animals which the owners likely kept as pets, albeit in terrible conditions.
#11 Poor Living Conditions
The three animals (a lion, a tiger and a bear) were babies and severely underfed, underweight and plagued by a number of different parasites and health issues. The animals also visibly suffered several forms of abuse and were kept in cages that they were obviously the wrong sizes for the animals to be living in.
#10 Additional Injuries
On closer inspection, there were also more injuries on the animals. The lion had a sore injury on his nose and was kept in a cage, where the bars dug into the animals skin. Even worse, the bear cub had outgrown its restraints and the harness had to be surgically removed from its skin!
#9 Following the Rescue
After being rescued from the horrible living conditions in the drug house, the trio of animals were taken to the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary (NAAS). Here, they received medical treatment and thankfully, all made full recoveries and began to live at the sanctuary, and would soon become the best of friends.
The bear and tiger were named Baloo and Shere Khan (named after characters from “The Jungle Book”). The lion, which was maneless thanks to an operation, was named Leo. As a result, the three were known as BLT, a name that stuck for this adorable trio of life-long friends.
#7 They Stayed Together
Even after the three were rescued, they still decided to stay together and were even given the same living space in the sanctuary. There, they acted just like a family and loved playing with each other and keeping each other company. Their traumatic past brought them closer together, as best friends.
#6 They Are Amazing Friends
These three sleep together, play together and even groom each other by licking each others’ heads and rubbing each others’ fur. These animals had a horrific experience when they were just babies, but that experience has led them to be the best of friends, despite the notable and obvious differences that they have.
The real-life Baloo is just like his fictional counterpart; he is relaxed and has a sweet-tooth. But the tiger is more mischievous and likes to pounce on his brothers when they least expect it. And while Leo was normally pretty lethargic, he came to life when it was time to play with his brothers.
#4 Over a Decade of Friendship
The three animals were friends and lived together for more than a decade. All told, they spent the best years of their lives in the sanctuary. But in August of 2016, Noah’s Ark posted that BLT was going to be missing one of its beloved family members in a very sad announcement.
#3 Sad Goodbye
On August 11th, the sanctuary said goodbye to Leo, a loving member of the BLT trio. Leo wasn’t himself for a few weeks, and numerous different tests didn’t show any answers as to what was wrong. As a result, he became scheduled for exploratory abdominal surgery to see what was up.
#2 Bad News
Tragically, the exploratory surgery revealed something even worse. Surgeons discovered that over 80 percent of Leo’s liver was full of inoperable masses. The case was essentially hopeless, and Leo was not expected to live much longer. Because of this, the doctors and sanctuary made the awful choice to let him go.
#1 A Final Goodbye
But before Leo was put down to save himself from any future pains or problems, his brothers were able to say one last goodbye to their best friend. But even the animals noticed his health deteriorating over the weeks. Some believe they even knew before those in charge of caring for him did.
The “BLT” story is one that ranges from amazingly adorable to heartbreakingly sad. But despite whatever emotions this story brings, there is but one word to describe it: outstanding. This unique friendship is one that amazed and inspired every person it touched. Lions, tigers, and bears are all giant, and terrifying animals to those who don’t know them. But these three best friends showed that despite being fierce animals at the top of their food chains, they are also friendly as can be. While it is heartbreaking to see the friendship end, it is amazing that it even occurred in the first place.