Bear Diary: Adit, The Last ‘Dancing’ Bear!

July 27, 2023 | By Wildlife SOS
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Hailing from the Mughal era, the tradition of ‘dancing’ bears was once a thriving practice that was passed down from generation to generation among the Kalandar community. As time progressed and the royal era declined, the Kalandar community had to take this practice to the streets in order to sustain their livelihood. While the community depended entirely on this practice for their survival, the ‘dancing’ sloth bears endured trauma and abuse in captivity. Their plight took a turn for the better in 2002, when Wildlife SOS rehabilitated the first six sloth bears rescued from the ‘dancing’ bear trade. 

Adit is the last ‘dancing’ bear rescued and rehabilitated by Wildlife SOS. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Lenu Kannan]  

What began with six ended with an astounding total of 628 rescues of tormented bears. The last rescued bear stood as a strong symbol to signify the successful resolution of the ‘dancing’ bear practice. This is why Adit, formerly known as Raju, holds a special place in the long and determined endeavour towards animal welfare. Rehabilitated with Wildlife SOS in 2009, Adit is the last known ‘dancing’ bear of India. Now aged 22, he stands as a testament to the success of Wildlife SOS’ tireless efforts. He exemplifies hope and represents the transformative power of compassion and rehabilitation. Safely distanced from a life of misery and exploitation, Adit embraced his new identity as a strong and resilient bear at the Wildlife SOS Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre (BBRC).

Physical Health and Dietary Preferences 

Adit’s physical health is remarkably robust, and he is not undergoing specific medical treatments currently. To sustain his health, the veterinarians at BBRC have prescribed health supplements for him. His canines remain intact, and his caretakers ensure that he receives the best possible care.

Adit has a voracious appetite, and his food preferences reflect his delight in exploring new tastes! He wholeheartedly enjoys treats such as peanut butter, honey, jackfruit, and watermelon. His love for food serves as a poignant reminder of the simple joys he was denied during his time as a ‘dancing’ bear.

The journey of Adit’s recovery from a life of neglect was a gradual process, supported by the patient and dedicated efforts of his caregivers. Each step towards embracing his new life was a triumph over his dark past. Engaging joyfully with enrichment activities, such as mounting hammocks and playing with his swings, indicates his will to heal from the emotional scars he acquired in captivity.

Adit enjoys spending time with himself as he gallivants around his field. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Lenu Kannan]  

The Importance of Rescue and Rehabilitation

Adit’s rescue highlights the importance of organisations that are committed to protecting and rehabilitating distressed animals. Wildlife SOS provides facilities that closely resemble the natural habitat so that animals like Adit can rediscover life in its truest sense. Keeping individual needs of rescued sloth bears in mind is essential for their well-being. Adit’s transition from being a mistreated bear to becoming a vibrant individual motivates our staff to continue their commitment towards bear care.

Today, Adit lives a life of freedom and contentment. Through his story, we are reminded of the need to protect wildlife so that they can lead lives free from exploitation.

Adit enjoys interacting with food enrichments, which includes the ball filled with dates, grass and peanut butter — all of which he loves! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Lenu Kannan]  

It has been 14 years since the practice of ‘dancing’ bears ended with the arrival of Adit at BBRC. Wildlife SOS has simultaneously been conscious and empathetic towards the Kalandar community that bore severe financial impact from this change. While we provide safe rehabilitation to the erstwhile ‘dancing’ bears, we have also ensured that the Kalandar community is empowered with education and skills for alternative and progressive livelihoods. The rescues of sloth bears therefore encompass a holistic and sensitive approach towards conservation.

Adit’s remarkable journey has inspired us to continue our conservation efforts towards wildlife. Wildlife SOS works tirelessly to protect and nurture voiceless animals and aims to spread awareness and understanding among people. We can create a future where all animals can flourish in an environment of compassion and care. Adit got a chance to receive the care and affection that he deserves as part of our goal to help animals in distress. You too can help us sustain his well-being by making a donation for Adit.

Written by: Damini Kulkarni

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