Beloved Lion Of 'BLT' Fame Has Passed Away

RIP, Leo.

The world is now mourning the loss of Leo, an African lion whose life story seemed too incredible to be true. Leo lived at Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Ga., alongside a tiger and a bear who had been his brothers all his life.

That's right: a lion, tiger, and bear as a family. Oh, my!

As cubs, the three animals were neglected and abused by the drug dealer who owned them. The American black bear, named Baloo, had a harness embedded in his skin because it was not removed when he had outgrown it. The Bengal tiger — named Shere Khan — and Leo had multiple injuries. 

In these dark times, the young animals relied on each other for companionship and love. When they were finally rescued by Noah's Ark, it became abundantly clear how deep that love really was

Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary
Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary

Lions, tigers, and bears are all apex predators, so they were initially split up at their new home in order to avoid problems of them fighting. The only real problem they had was being separated, which all of them found extremely stressful. When they were reunited, they became peaceful again.

The bear, lion, and tiger — lovingly known as BLT — lived together as brothers at Noah's Ark for more than 14 years. Sadly, their time together as a trio has now come to an end.

Over the last few weeks, Leo had been falling ill. He was extremely fatigued, refused to eat, unable to defecate, and a myriad of other symptoms. He was given multiple tests, but there was no obvious problem. With no options left, the veterinarians opted for exploratory surgery. 

It was there that they found his liver had been consumed by tumors. The only humane option was to not let Leo suffer more than he already had.

Noah's Ark broke the news late on Thursday on its Facebook page.

The post read:

LEO UPDATE: Good evening friends, I am so sorry to say that our beloved Leo has passed away. As you can imagine, we are all heartbroken over this loss. During today's surgery, we discovered that over 80% of Leo's liver was full of tumors and because of this, the decision was made to let him go. Both Baloo and Shere Khan were able say goodbye to their lion brother, and we will monitor them closely for any signs of stress or depression as they are grieving the loss of a family member as well. Thank you all so much for your support and your prayers, they are appreciated more than you will ever know especially during such an emotional time for all of us.

Leo captured the hearts of people from around the world with his unique life story and will not be forgotten. The post has been shared on Facebook thousands of times, with mourners offering their condolences to Noah's Ark for this tremendous loss.

If you would like to honor Leo and help support the brothers he left behind, please consider donating to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, which is solely run on donations. The facility houses more than 1,200 animals representing 100 species.

Cover image: Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary