The United States Ambassador to India, Mr. Richard Verma, and his wonderful family stopped by the Agra Bear Rescue Facility and Elephant Conservation and Care Centre on Sunday to spend an entire day with the rescued animals on site.
The Ambassador and his family started their visit by meeting the staff at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility and taking a stroll through the sanctuary accompanied by the Director of Conservation Projects, Mr. Baiju Raj. While Baiju told them about the bears’ painful history of abuse and torture at the hands of their previous owners, inquisitive bear snouts approached the enclosure edges all around, to catch a whiff of the excitement. The more curious bears walked right up to the fencing, giving the visitors the unique opportunity to see first-hand the amazing recovery these bears have undergone since being rescued by Wildlife SOS. They walked through the expansive rescue facility, along walkways and dirt-trails, getting to watch the bears as they ate, slept and played, oblivious to people watching them.
The walk ended at the hospital and operation theatre, where the visitors were introduced to Dr. Ilayaraja S., the Chief Veterinary Officer at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. Dr. Ilayaraja showed them around, and explained bear physiognomy to them, with the help of x-rays and samples at the lab, while simultaneously explaining to them the medical problems our animals come to us with, as a result of their former lives.
As they exited the hospital, the ambassador’s children were thrilled to see a young Nilgai fawn that had recently been rescued by Wildlife SOS, as it was being fed by the rescue team. The children each took turns feeding the calf from a bottle, and the calf seemed to quite enjoy the doting affection and reassuring strokes it was getting from the excited children.
Meanwhile, Baiju showed them other rescued animals at the centre, including an exceptionally friendly baby rhesus macaque that clambered all over them, intrigued at the sight of the new people. They even got to hold a couple of snakes that had been rescued by the organization, while the expert team told them about these deeply misunderstood creatures, detailing the threats to their conservation and dispelling common misconceptions about these amazing reptiles.
The ambassador and his family were presented with our custom range of Raju bags, sporting a graphic of our rescued elephant Raju bursting out of the chains that had confined him for fifty years.
The group then made their way to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, where they got to meet fifteen of Wildlife SOS’ rescued elephants, including our resident ele-celebrity, Raju! The whole family watched as the three best ele-friends at the centre- Asha, Lakhi and Suzy- splashed about in their pool, showering them with affection and water! The Ambassador and his family then got to feed some delicious fruit to Laxmi, Chanchal and Bijli, who seemed quite content to stand around looking beautiful as the guests fed them and stroked their trunks. The elephant vets took a break from their treatment schedules to talk to the visitors about the animals and answer the children’s eager questions.
Despite the heat, everyone remained oblivious to the sun, and managed to have an amazing time.
The ambassador even left us a wonderful little note:
“Wildlife SOS is doing important work. We are so proud of them. Thank you for all that you are doing to educate the public, save these beautiful creatures and sustain and protect our environment for the future. We are all grateful for your courageous and amazing work. Thank you for caring for and treating these magnificent creatures.”
We’re certain Mr. Verma will extend his heartfelt support to wildlife and environmental conservation work in India, and help us make a huge difference to animals in the country!