The famous animal BLT – Baloo the American black bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the Bengal tiger – are now just a BT.
The trio; a bear, lion, and tiger, all came out of the same dire circumstances of being held in cages under a drug dealer’s home in Atlanta, captured the public’s heart with their unlikely friendship.
Since they were rescued from absolutely horrid conditions during a drug raid 15 years ago, the three have been inseparable at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, which is located in Georgia.
However, on August 16, the sanctuary posted on its Facebook page that Leo the lion had passed over the rainbow bridge.
After months of being lethargic and barely eating, Leo underwent exploratory abdominal surgery, and veterinarians were devastated to find that his liver was filled with inoperable tumors.
‘The heart-wrenching decision was made to let him go,’ announced the group on Facebook.
Leo’s brothers, whose names are Shere Khan and Baloo, were ‘given the opportunity to say goodbye’ and have been doing ‘remarkably well’ though they will be closely monitored for signs of grief or depression, explained the sanctuary.
Through his illness, Leo was kept in a cage just adjacent to that of Baloo and Shere Khan, who could visit him.
‘Animals are so perceptive and with the incredible bond the BLT had since being rescued together from a drug dealer’s basement in 2001, it is highly likely that Baloo and Shere Khan knew their lion brother was terminally ill long before Leo began displaying outward symptoms,’ the group went on to say.
The sanctuary claims that the brothers, as they were called, were incredibly close and never fought at all However, Shere Khan was a prankster who often enjoyed jumping on an unsuspecting Leo, according to the Mother Nature Network.
Leo is also seen in videos actually ‘chatting’ with his caretakers.
The sanctuary’s Facebook wall is literally filled with an outpouring of support from BLT fans.
‘He is watching over you guys, but most importantly he is watching over his brothers. They have been through thick and thin, hell and back, but the day you rescued them all together it was like heaven for them,’ noted Liv Necastro.