Lion, Tiger And Bear Become Inseparable Best Friends At Georgia Rescue Center [VIDEO]
Three animals that might otherwise tear each other apart have reportedly become best friends at an animal rescue shelter in Georgia. The zookeepers there say a lion, tiger and bear "are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends." And according to some reports, they're even disposed to snuggle.
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Their story began 12 years ago, when a police raid on a drug lord in Atlanta produced more contraband than just dope. The dealers were keeping the exotic animals as status symbols, which isn't all that unusual. A drug dealer in Dallas, for example, used the proceeds of his crack deals to stock up on exotic pets and horses, the Dallas Observer reported in 2010. What is unusual is that these mixed species, the playthings of a crime boss, grew up together and became as thick as thieves themselves.
When authorities turned them over to Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center in Locust Grove, Ga., the animal experts there decided not to separate them. Diane Smith, one of the directors there, described the animals' idyllic existence in an interview with the UK Telegraph in 2009. "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," she said. "When Leo [the lion, of course] wakes up the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food." The other two are named after Jungle Book characters: Shere Kahn and Baloo.
Noah's Ark is a rescue shelter, but it's actually more like a zoo. On their website, the organization says it started small in the 1970s but now claims to have more than 100 species of more than 1,000 animals. They say Noah's Ark "is one of the preferred destinations for confiscated and rescued animals," which pour in through partnerships with state and federal wildlife authorities. In 2008, there was a zebra wandering on Interstate 75. "Morning commuters reported the animal was grazing next to the Interstate in Henry County on Tuesday," according to a Georgia television station. Noah's Ark scooped it up and nursed it back to health.
Now, Noah's Ark is again in the news as it tries to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to keep Baloo, Leo, and Shere Kahn together. New federal regulations would have required the three be in separate pens unless the organization could raise the funds to double the height of the walls. After a public campaign, they came up with $362,269. "To our knowledge, this is the only place where you'll find this combination of animals together," Smith told the Telegraph. Here's a video of the animals — complete with groan-worthy TV news script — playing together back in April.
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