By Sharon St. Joan
During the monsoon, Jambavant can be found after a heavy downpour, walking along with the mud squishing between his toes. He peers at the ground, waiting for bugs and termites to come up to the surface, and ants too! He enjoys having his fur all wet. For him the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, run by Wildlife SOS, is heaven.
Itâ€™s been five years since he arrived; his life in the past wasnâ€™t much fun and, as a captive bear, forced to â€œdanceâ€ on the streets for money, he didnâ€™t see much natural ground, muddy or otherwise, just hot sidewalks and long hours.
When he arrived, he was skinny, with a scrawny neck, and his fur falling out, but heâ€™d come to the right place. With treatment from a caring vet and attentive caregivers, his appetite and his love of life bounced back. He got a lot of treatments, including a vaccination against Leptospirosis and deworming. He was named after Jumbavant, who was king of the bears in the epic Indian poem, the Ramayana.
Now Jumbavant is 13, and as heâ€™s gotten a little older, tonics and calcium supplements help keep him spritely. He weighs 110 kilos (242 pounds), which is much better than being skinny.
In the early summer, before the rains come, when itâ€™s hot and the sun streams down, Jumbavant likes to sleep inside most of the day. In the afternoons he comes out to have a nap under the shade of the climbing platform.
But later on in the season when the rains have arrived, he springs to life and plays with his pals, Nathan and Bhola. They climb as high as they can, taking turns being â€œking of the mountainâ€ at the top of the platform.
Once the three of them played at climbing into a small hammock all at the same time, but their worried keeper was afraid they would end up in a heap with the collapsed hammock on top of them, so he distracted them with watermelon treats, and no harm was done to the bears or the hammock.
Mangoes are not always in season, but they are a special favorite, so when they are available, the bears enjoy stuffing themselves â€“ and occasionally almost have a riot, stealing each others mangoes. Jambavant licks his plate very thoroughly, expecting that this will cause more mangoes to appear on the plate.
His enjoyment of life is contagious and makes everyone around him happy — and thankful that Jambavant has been given the gift of a joyful life.