Japanese Red

Photo and caption by Judith Holford


These Japanese Red-crowned Cranes were seen at the Akan International Crane Centre in Hokkaido, Japan. One appeared to be the gatekeeper – pronouncing on whether the other two could pass. It captured a humorous moment with members of this endangered species which has been brought back from the edge of extinction by conservation measures.


They make an unlikely trio, but Baloo the bear, Leo the lion and Shere Khan the tiger have forged an unusually strong bond.

Considering that they would be mortal enemies if they ever were to meet in the wild, it is stunning to see their unique and  genuine friendship in these intimate pictures.

Rescued eight years ago during a police drug raid in Atlanta, Georgia, the three friends were only cubs at the time at barely two months old.

They had been kept as status symbol pets by drug barons.

Delivered to the Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue Centre in Locust Grove, Georgia, the decision was made to keep the  youngsters together, because of their budding rapport.
‘We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together,’ said  Diane Smith, assistant director of Noah’s Ark.    

‘To our knowledge, this is the only place where you’ll find this combination of animals together.’
Living with the zoo’s founders for the past eight years, Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo have now moved to a purpose-built  habitat where the US public can now witness first hand their touching relationships.

‘We didn’t have the money to move them at first,’ said Diane.

‘Now their habitat is sorted and they have been moved away from the children’s zoo areas where the public couldn’t really get a good look.

‘It is possible to see Baloo, who is a 1000lb bear, Shere Khan, a 350lb tiger and Leo, who is also 350lbs, messing around like brothers.

‘They are totally oblivious to the fact that in any other circumstance they would not be friends.’ 

Handled by Charles and Jama Hedgecoth, the zoo’s owners and founders, the three friendly giants appear to have no comprehension of their animal differences.

‘Baloo and Shere Khan are very close,’ says Diane.

‘That is because they rise early, and as Leo is a lion, he likes to spend most of the day sleeping.

‘It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American Black Bear put his arm around a Bengal and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat.

‘When Leo wakes up, the three of them mess around for most of the day before they settle down to some food.’ 

Surprisingly for three apex predators with the power to kill with a single bite or swipe of their paw, they are very relaxed around each other.

‘They eat, sleep and play together,’ said Jama.

‘As they treat each other as siblings they will lie on top of each other for heat and simply for affection.

‘At the moment, they are getting used to their new habitat.

‘Shere Khan is being quite reticent about the move, but Baloo, the bear, is very good at leading him on and making him feel comfortable and safe.’  

Explaining that the three ‘brothers’ have always seemed to share a unique bond, Charles said: ‘Noah’s Ark is their home and they could not possibly be separated from each other.

‘You just have to remember who you’re dealing with when you are with them, though. ‘It’s when you forget  that these fellows are wild animals that you get yourself in trouble.’ 

The trio’s new habitat had to be constructed carefully, in order to accommodate its occupants.

Jama said: ‘The clubhouse had to be very sturdy for the guys, because they all sleep in it together,’ 

She added: ‘We had to include a creek, because the tiger and the bear both like to be in water.’ 


Remember to obey the rules……



‘Rules Are Rules’

It was a normal day in Sharon Springs , Kansas ,when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina ..

The Bad news:

Just a few miles into the trip, a wheel-bearing became overheated, and
melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail,
creating white hot molten-metal droppings spewing down to the rail.

The Good news:
A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train, and
immediately stopped the train in compliance with the Union Pacific
Safety Rules.

The Bad news:
The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge, with
creosote ties and trusses.

The crew tried to explain to CEO ‘Higher-Ups’, but were
instructed NOT to move the train !

They were instructed
‘The Rules Book’ prohibits
moving the train when a part is defective !

EVER/NEVER let common sense get in the way of a good disaster!