By Julia Williams
Stories surface from time to time about unusual friendships between animals of different species. Last year in “True Stories of Interspecies Animal Friendships” I wrote about several such “animal odd couples” that play together, eat together and show affection for one another, including a dog and deer, giraffe and ostrich, and kitten and crow.
I recently learned of the unlikely yet strong bond between three animals that would be mortal enemies under any other circumstance. Although it might seem more like a Disney movie than real life, the tale of a lion, a tiger and a bear who became best friends is true, and very heartwarming.
Leo the lion, Shere Khan the tiger, and Baloo the bear live together at Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center in Locust Grove, Georgia. Eight years ago, three tiny cubs barely two months old were rescued during a police drug raid in Atlanta, Georgia. It was thought that the three exotic animals were being kept as status symbol pets. The cubs were taken to Noah’s Ark, where the decision was made to keep the trio together because they came as a kind of family and seemed to have already formed a bond. Whether it would work long term or not was anybody’s guess, because this unlikely animal friendship was one of a kind. “To our knowledge, this is the only place where you’ll find this combination of animals together,” said Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah’s Ark.