Approaching Elvis’ enclosure at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, you are greeted by his nose, reaching out towards you, twitching and sniffing to find out who is visiting him. Having been hand-raised by the staff at ABRF, Elvis is always happy to be around people, and his joy is evident in the way he runs about his enclosure when the keepers or vets arrive. He has grown considerably over the last year, and is a beautiful sight now- his shaggy coat covering a healthy body and happy heart.
Only the scar at the top of his eagerly outstretched muzzle betrays the trauma of his past. Poached from the wild as a cub of barely two months old, Elvis was probably witness to the slaughter of his mother, following which he was tied up and taken to be sold across the border. His delicate muzzle was pierced with a hot iron rod, making it evident that he was destined to be sold into the cruel dancing bear trade that still persists in the neighbouring state of Nepal.
Our anti-poaching unit was tipped off by a group of reformed members of the ex-dancing bear community in Bihar, and arrived to find that the poachers had made off, but left tiny Elvis still tied to a tree.
A year has gone by since Elvis’ rescue, and the transformation we have seen in him has been tremendous. He spent the first few months regaining his strength, being bottle-fed milk by his keeper at the cub weaning centre. He was a little apprehensive of people, particularly strangers, but over time developed a heartwarming bond with his keeper, which persists till date.
Even today, when the keeper comes in to feed him or check up on him, Elvis will amble gleefully up to him and swipe playfully at his feet, trying to trip him over, even if he’s holding a heavy bowl of porridge! When the keeper leaves the centre to run an errand or check on the other bears, Elvis will often stand up on his hind legs, watching him leave, and cry for him to return.
Elvis is now eating solid food, and enjoys a big bowl of porridge and treats like mangoes, watermelons and (his favourite) honey, just like the other bears at the centre. He is still too young to be introduced to any of the adult bears, but we’re sure he’ll get along just fine when the time comes- it’s impossible not to love this mischievous cub. Elvis has grown much stronger with the constant care of our staff available to him, and the food he gobbles down with relish. He’s even grown more curious, sniffing at anything new in his enclosure, including visitors!
Elvis is nearly full grown now, and the veterinarians are thrilled to report that he is healthy and happy, weighing 63 kilos as per his last check up, with no sign of any health concerns. For his first birthday with us, we’re giving him a little extra of his favourite porridge and lots of honey as a treat, even though he will polish it off within minutes and then demand some more. The day also gives us a chance to reflect upon his remarkable journey of recovery, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have been a part of the recovery and growth of this incredibly loveable cub.
Catch a glimpse of our adorable bear’s jouney with us HERE