LOCUST GROVE, Ga. - Where can you find a lion, tiger and bear all living together? At Noah's Ark Sanctuary south of Atlanta, that's where.
In 2013, wsbtv.com's Nelson Hicks visited the facility, and the story, video and photos ranked as some of the most popular content on wsbtv.com for the year. So, Hicks visited again to report on more of the animals that call Noah's Ark home.
Noah's Ark Sanctuary houses about 1,000 animals during the fall and winter months. That number grows to about 1,500 during late spring and the summer. The "BLT;" -- that's the bear, lion and tiger that live together at the sanctuary -- rank as the facility's most popular, but it's far from the only unusual combination of animals. Meet the Motley Crew. That's Chelsea the Angus cow, Olive the emu, Ebony the Jacob sheep and Stewart, the Pygmy goat.
"They're here because they would not do well in the pasture with other animals in the big group," Allison Hedgecoth from Noah's Ark said. "Olive; I don't think has any idea that she's an emu. She was raised in the house with people, then; she comes to live with a sheep, goat and a cow, and if we let her go into our emu pack, they have such a strict social hierarchy, we just don't think that she would do well."
And Hedgecoth stresses; that's why they're all together, not because it makes a fun combo of animals, but because they all have special needs that are similar, all arrived at the sanctuary at about the same time and all bonded and feel like this is their family. The four of them arrived at Noah's Ark about a year ago.
"Chelsea does look out after her family," Hedgecoth said. "When new people do come into her enclosure, she does not want them in there and she will physically remove them. She'll push them out."
And like families, they carry out the day-to-day activities of living alongside one another. They cruise their pen together, they eat together, they even deal with the not-so-glamorous tasks of family life; together.
"They groom each other," Hedgecoth said. "Chelsea the cow actually over-grooms Olive a little bit. We're working on that. She just loves Olive so much, she just licks those feathers right off of her. And Olive will actually return the favor and she preens Chelsea's tail. She'll get all of the little sticks and twigs out of her tail."
And each member of the Motley Crew will spend the rest of their days at Noah's Ark. It's not a zoo. It doesn't sell or breed or trade animals. It takes in animals and cares for them for the remainder of their lives. Some are rescued from bad situations. Some are former pets that people can no longer care for. Some were used in research. But no matter how they got there, they'll remain at Noah's Ark unless they can be nursed back to health and returned to the wild.
The facility isn't federally or state funded. It's a private sanctuary that relies on donations and volunteers. It takes about $33,000 a month to feed and care for all the animals and 250 volunteers to keep the sanctuary running.
Visitors can check out Chelsea, Olive, Ebony, Stewart and the rest of the animals that call Noah's Ark home Tuesdays-Saturdays from noon until 3 p.m.
Noah's Ark is hosting its 4th Annual Zebra Dash 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run on April 19th. Check out this link for more information.
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