Last month, stepbrothers Shere Khan, Leo and Baloo moved into a new home together. Nothing unusual there, except that Shere Khan is a tiger, Leo a lion, and Baloo an American black bear. Oh my!
Police discovered the threesome in the back of a car during a drug bust in Atlanta in 2001. The animals, then just fuzzy cubs around two months old, were apparently being kept as pets by drug kingpins. After their rescue, they were sent to Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilition Center, an animal refuge in Locust Grove, Georgia, Noah's Ark's assistant director Diane Smith told Paw Nation.
"They got along so well as babies, they decided to keep them together," Smith told Paw Nation. Eight years on, the unlikely trio remains inseparable, eating, sleeping and romping together around their new enclosure. "I guess no one's ever told them they're different species," Smith said.
Shere Khan and Baloo are particularly close, she said, and the 350-pound tiger can often be seen nuzzling the half-ton bear like an overgrown housecat. Shere Khan and Baloo often get up early to play while Leo, a typical lion, spends most of the day sleeping. Once Leo finally rolls out of bed, the three spend the afternoons together.
The animals are still adjusting to their new enclosure, where, for the first time, they are on display to the visiting public. It has taken Shere Khan a while to get used to the new space, Smith said, but he's coming around -- especially with his buddies Leo and Baloo around for support. The new digs includes a sturdy wooden clubhouse where all three animals sleep together.
Noah's Ark staff hope to eventually expand the habitat to include a creek that runs behind their current enclosure. (Baloo and Shere Khan particularly like to splash around in the water.)
"They really do enjoy each other's company," Smith added. "They interact just like brothers."
To feast your eyes on more Shere Khan-Leo-Baloo adorableness -- including painfully cute baby pictures -- visit their Facebook fan page.