Heartwarming story how bear, lion, tiger became close-knit family

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It's not something you see every day, but a lion, tiger and a bear have become a close-knit family at an animal rehabilitation center in Georgia.

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. - It's not something you see every day, but a lion, tiger and a bear have become a close-knit family at an animal rehabilitation center in Georgia.

Baloo, the American black bear; Leo, the African lion and Shere Khan, the Bengal tiger; were discovered in 2001 in a basement of an Atlanta home by police during a drug raid.

The trio is better known as BLT.

All three cubs were found malnourished and infected with parasites and were brought to Noah's Ark in Locust Grove, Ga.

Officials said Baloo the bear was in the worst shape, with a severely ingrown harness that dug into his flesh because it was never loosed as he grew in size.

Veterinarians performed a surgical procedure to remove the harness and clean his deep, infected wounds.

Leo the lion had an open and infected wound on his nose from being confined to a small crate.

IMAGES: Bear, lion, tiger become the 'BLT' family

The only time the three were separated was during Baloo's surgery, and officials said Shere Khan the tiger and Leo the lion became extremely agitated.

All three animals were rehabilitated at Noah's Ark with proper diet and treatment and began to show signs of recovery.

Officials at the sanctuary decided they couldn't be separated and built an enclosure to keep them together.

There was only one problem: the government passed new federal regulations requiring big cat enclosures to be 16 feet high, and their enclosure was only 8 feet high.

The regulations were set to take effect in October.

BLT would have to be separated.

The Sanctuary entered a online fundraising contest to help raise the nearly half a million dollars it would take to build the new fence.

Noah's Ark had was named the winner, which means a happy ending for BLT.

For more photos and stories visit Noah's Ark Facebook page here.

For more on Noah's Ark rescue efforts, visit their webiste here.