Ghanshyam has worked at Wildlife SOS’ Agra Bear Rescue Facility for nearly ten years, as a cook for three years and a bear keeper ever since. His passion for his job and love for the animals he works with was evident when we spoke to him, and we thought we’d share some of his enthusiasm with you.
When did you join Wildlife SOS?
I’ve been working with Wildlife SOS since 2005. I was living in Punjab with my family when I found out about a possible vacancy at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. A friend of my family worked with Wildlife SOS and on hearing about the opening, suggested my brother apply for it. I had been involved in a number of odd jobs but used to get bored extremely quickly and was slowly losing interest in my current job, working as a tailor with my brother. My father suggested that I apply for this job instead of my brother.
My first visit to ABRF convinced me that this was what I was meant to be doing. I applied for the job and got it. I was on kitchen duty for three years, only occasionally acting as a bear keeper. In 2008, I was made a full time bear keeper at ABRF.
Describe a typical work day at the facility.
I start my day by feeding the bears their morning meal and then cleaning out the enclosures and facility. After my lunch, I help build enrichments for the animals, followed by their fruit treats in the afternoon. In the evening, when they are returning to their dens, I give them their evening meal.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I love the work I do here, and so don’t consider any of my duties difficult or a problem. I never get bored or tired of my work, unlike with my previous jobs. My work is extremely rewarding.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love when, during my free time in between duties, I get to play with and interact with the bears. They’re all so playful and affectionate, it’s always fun to be around them.
Is there a particular bear that you’re fond of?
That’s very difficult to say, I really do love them all. I suppose Herbie would be one of the bears I’m fondest of. He’s a beautiful bear, and he follows me around when I’m working in his enclosure. Sometimes, I honestly feel like he understands me when I talk to him. I really adore him.
What has been your fondest memory working with Wildlife SOS?
I’ve been on a couple of rescues since I joined, and I love when we rescue and rehabilitate wild bears. Seeing a rescued, healed bear return to the wild is incredibly motivating and really validates the work we do.