Bear Diary: Odum, The Miniature Marvel!

January 25, 2024 | By Mrunmayee Pawar
Help us spread the news. Please share our lifesaving work on your social media.
[Sassy_Social_Share style="text-align:center"]

Once upon a time in Bellari, Karnataka, a young sloth bear was paraded to perform through the streets. He had been poached and captured as a cub to become a part of the ‘dancing’ bear practice. In order to make the bear perform, a harsh rope was passed through his nose that was pricked by a searing iron poker. Tugging this rope would force the bear to move in pain, which was misunderstood as an entertaining act by viewers. It was in 2009 when his owners finally put an end to the captive bear’s ordeal by surrendering the nine-year-old to Wildlife SOS for his long-term care. This was also the year that Wildlife SOS finally brought the ‘dancing’ bear practice to an end. 

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Ramesh K]

Along with achieving a milestone that took over two decades of hard work, another special chapter was waiting to unfold at Wildlife SOS’s lush Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre (BBRC) in 2009. During the shooting of the film Eat, Pray, Love, Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts was invited to our centre, and she warmly accepted it. In the course of her guided tour, she came across our recently rescued bear, and the unfortunate story of his past. As a wonderful and heartwarming gesture, the actress lovingly bestowed the name “Odum” to the bear. Ever since, Odum has been winning the hearts of every visitor who comes by! 

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Ramesh K]

Facing cruelty in his young and formative years, Odum had never experienced the kind attention he was receiving at the centre. When he arrived at BBRC, he was a meek and timid bear. Stunted growth and an abnormal gait had been detected as well. These were dire consequences of malnutrition and mistreatment he was met with during his former ‘dancing’ bear days. 

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Hemanta Bijoy Chakma]

Under the watchful care of the veterinary team and the dedicated caregivers, Odum set off on the journey towards healing. Faith in the affection of his caregiver had now replaced the fear of brutal strikes he had encountered in captivity. This eventually also led Odum to cooperate confidently during target training sessions, which enabled our medical staff to conduct his examinations safely. As Odum’s physical health improved, he began to reveal his fun-filled, mischievous nature as well. 

Odum is a small bear, and his relatively short stature makes him easily identifiable at the centre. Our team mindfully devises creative enrichments keeping this spirited bear’s overall wellbeing in mind. 

Among the first enrichments designed for Odum was an innovative structure inspired by a jungle gym. It was crafted by the caregivers keeping his diminutive stature in mind. Along with this, puzzle feeders were introduced to him, within which were hidden delicious treats that he had to find. Soon, his field became a playground for Odum! It had many wooden logs he would toss around, and tyres filled with dates and hay that he would pull out.  

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Ramesh K]

Now, at 23 years of age, Odum is an old bear, but he continues to be merrily engrossed with his enrichments. His absolute favourite one is a ball laced with peanut butter. This creamy delight adds a new layer of joy to his daily life! Odum finds solace in his cosy hammock, strategically placed at a lower height for his ease. The hammock becomes his sanctuary, a place where this bear can comfortably relax after his active hours. His enclosure has rocky outgrowths that create differences in the terrain. With these, Odum has found a small cave-like nook in which he snuggles into when he isn’t on his hammock. To fulfil his fond desire to climb, Odum shows a peculiar talent of using his muzzle to mount higher platforms!

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Ramesh K]

Geriatric bears often undergo frequent changes in their feeding pattern. Along with this, during the winter season, the activity levels of sloth bears are low. To keep track of Odum’s appetite and his nutritious intake, he has been brought closer to the feeding den. This has helped old Odum access his food with ease, without exhausting much of his energy. For his nourishment, mealworms and black soldier fly (BSF) larvae are included consistently in his intake. 

In his younger days, Odum’s friendly nature played a vital role in his path to recovery. Despite the asocial nature of sloth bears in the wild, companionships among bears under our care have significantly helped Odum and his peers overcome the psychological trauma they faced.  Another senior bear under our care, Chitra, was recently accommodated with Odum in his current enclosure. The caregivers have observed an exceptional bond forming between Odum and Chitra. Not only do the two pleasantly interact with each other, they also acknowledge one another’s solitary time and space.   

[Picture (c) Wildlife SOS/ Lenu Kannan] 

For rehabilitated animals, dental health is a crucial aspect to ensure their upkeep. The sloth bears at our centre, having endured the crude breaking of their canines during their former captivity, often present numerous dental issues that require urgent attention. Our skilled veterinarians have been trained to conduct a variety of dental procedures, including tooth extractions and root canals. Odum too had undergone a tooth extraction procedure of a broken incisor that was slowly starting to get infected.

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Hemanta Bijoy Chakma]

As part of his geriatric care, the team at BBRC conducts regular medical examinations of Odum to record his health, and combat negative symptoms, if any, well in time.  He has been following a regimen of joint supplements to support his limbs, and liver supplements to aid his digestion. To make sure that he consumes them with ease, the caregivers mix these additives well in his warm porridge.

[Picture (c) Wildlife SOS/ Lenu Kannan] 

As we look back at the 15 remarkable years with Odum, it reinforces the fact that through compassion and effort, we can make the lives of those who have faced the darkest of days bright. You too can support Odum’s geriatric care by becoming a monthly donor. Join us in making a difference for the incredible bears under our care.

Share With


Related Posts

Our Social Media

Hotline Number | हॉटलाइन नंबर

Delhi NCT Region +91-9871963535
Agra Region (UP) +91-9917109666
Vadodra Region +91-9825011117
J&K Region +91 7006692300
+91 9419778280