Keeper of the Month: Saddam Hussain

May 28, 2021 | By Wildlife SOS
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Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre, in Bengaluru, is home to several of our rescued sloth bears, it is also a place where we have staff who have been with us right from the the time we first established the centre.

Saddam Hussain is once such individual who has been with Wildlife SOS for 14 years & counting! He is always enthusiastic about his tasks, and he loves to spread cheer around the centre.

Tell us about your life before joining Wildlife SOS

I am originally from Hospet, Karnataka. We come from a family of Kalandars, one of the last people who had a bear back then, was my brother. I joined Wildlife SOS, almost right out of school so, working here was a calling of sorts. I noticed how different Wildlife SOS is in their approach to tending to bears, which instantly drew me in. I was glad to be able to stop the practice with my choices, I fit right in at Wildlife SOS.

Keeper Saddam Hussain makes sure everyday if all the hammocks are set for the bears [Photo Credits (c) Wildlife SOS/Karthikeyan C]

What is your role at Wildlife SOS

As a bear caregiver, I have several responsibilities — right from arranging enrichments and food for the sloth bears, to cleaning up the bear dens and doing enclosure maintenance work. I enjoy  making fun enrichments for the bears such as climbing structures, honey logs and tyre feeders stuffed with dates and other treats, setting up hanging feeders in the safari area and the like. I also install comfortable hammocks for the bears to rest on in their enclosures. I try to gain more knowledge about enrichments from YouTube and from our team members at the the other centres.

Things you have learnt on the job

I have definitely learnt a lot here over the years. This was my first job, and I just fell in love with working with bears. Not only have I learnt to become a good animal keeper but also to interact and engage with visitors and volunteers from across the globe. I didn’t know English before but now I’m very comfortable using it. Wildlife SOS has also given me several opportunities to really be open to new challenges and learn as much as possible.

Creating different kinds of jungle gyms for the bears, inspired by videos on Youtube, Saddam brings new ideas for the bears [Photo Credits (c) Wildlife SOS/Karthikeyan C]

Who is the one bear, who you have the closest relationship with

I love all the bears but, Gayathri holds a special place in my heart. I have been looking after her for years, so she is very comfortable with me.  She is very intelligent and knows when it’s time for me to bring in her meals. She has an endearing habit of pacing up and down her den if I happen to be even a few minutes late!

Is there any message you have for the readers

My message will always be to respect animals and the forests. We have been exploiting Mother Nature for far too long and it’s time for us to learn to co-exist. Animals are very insightful and would not hurt anyone, we need to understand that, and not take advantage of that fact.

Message on COVID-19

Urging everyone to be safe during this time, it’s a tough time for everyone. Please try maintaining social distancing and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

This is an old photo of Saddam tending to Gayathri, the bear he has the most special bond with [Photo Credits (c) Wildlife SOS/Karthikeyan C]

Wildlife SOS urges everyone to take the utmost precaution at this time. We wish nothing but the best for all our supporters.
Disclaimer: These photos were taken before the pandemic.

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