You don’t have to travel to Oz to find this unique trio. A new exhibit at Noah’s Ark in Locust Grove, GA includes an African lion named Leo, a striped tiger named Shere Khan and a black bear named Baloo. The three animals came to Henry County as a family eight years ago. Just fuzzy cubs around two months old, they were found in the back of a car during a drug bust, and given to Noah’s Ark for rehabilitation. Until about a month ago, the group has lived in private near the non-profit’s children care center. However, the group received a donation at the beginning of the year, and began work on a habitat for the three jungle giants.
“They got along so well as babies, they decided to keep them together,” according to Assistant Director Diane Smith. Eight years on, this unlikely trio continue to be inseparable, eating, sleeping and playing together. “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. However lazy Leo, a typical lion, spends most of the day sleeping. Once Leo finally decides to roll out of bed, the three spend the afternoons together.
The wooden clubhouse that was built for them is where they all sleep together. Noah’s Ark hopes to expand their living enclosure so that it includes a creek as Baloo and Shere Khan love splashing around in water. “They really do enjoy each other’s company,” Smith added. “They interact just like brothers.”