Summer with its heat and dust is bad news for India but there’s celebration and joy in the Wildlife S.O.S. run Sloth Bear Rescue Facilities at Agra and Bannerghatta as 3 more “dancing” bears have been rescued and brought in. This takes us all another significant step forward in reducing the number of bears still out on the streets of India being used for the dancing bear trade.
Two of the bears were rescued from the Kalandars of Maharashtra where they were then kept in a tiny municipality run zoo, while the elaborate paper work for transporting them was completed, waiting for the final journey home to the Agra Rescue Facility. The bears which are one male and one female have been named Bilbo and Reshma bear. Bilbo is 12 years old and Reshma is 10 years old. Their journey was long and tiring and it will take them time to now adjust to life in a sanctuary. Although their ropes have been removed and the muzzle wounds will heal they have yet to get over the trauma of their past life as can be witnessed from their behavior. Whenever the keepers approach them they immediately take the stance of a “dancing” bear and stand erect on their two hind legs with the muzzle tilted at a particular angle in expectation of the pain that the rope can cause when tugged by the Kalandar owner. Reshma especially has a long way to go before she can completely comprehend her new life as a free bear.
The third and last rescued bear is a male bear named Abhimanyu who is now at the Wildlife S.O.S. centre in Bannerghata. Abhimanyu is 5 years old and has already settled down happily to a life of freedom from pain and bondage. Although still in quarantine he has made friends with the keepers who look after him and he enjoys his bowl of porridge and fruits at the sanctuary. His rope has been removed and his wound also has healed rapidly. Abhimanyu is a philosophical bear who has quickly overcome the stresses of his previous life and given up his agitated pacings and nervous behaviour quite soon. He has decided this is some kind of bear heaven with honey and dates available.