This is Mowgli’s story, but this Mowgli is different from one in the popular children’s book – The Jungle Book. His past is more harrowing, a tale which should make anyone teary-eyed. In 2017, a 10-week-old sloth bear cub was found nursing from his mother’s lifeless body outside the Sanjay-Dubri National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The mother was out foraging with her tiny cub clinging tightly to the fur on her back. It was the search for food and the need to feed her baby that drove this unsuspecting bear to the edge of the forest, when she fell prey to electrocution by high voltage wires set by poachers – a victim of a barbaric act.
To think of separating a mother from its child in such a cruel manner will move anyone emotionally. But young Mowgli somehow miraculously survived with minor electrical burns on his forehead and back. Alone and defenseless, his chances of surviving in the wild were next to none. Fortunately, he was found by a team from Wildlife SOS and the Forest Department and was placed under our care Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF).
His initial time was understandably filled with a lot of hesitation, bewildered by his new environs. The trauma he had suffered as a cub wounded him psychologically and it was not surprising that this tiny cub was terrified of human beings. The terror of all that he had seen and experienced left him trembling quietly in a corner, yearning for his mother, and too confused and scared to even sleep. It took him some time to forge trusting bonds and slowly but steadily, the caregivers and vets managed to win him over with regular bottles of milk and lots of love, especially his then caregiver Satinder who had been by Mowgli’s side day and night to comfort the frightened cub.
Today, our bear of the month Mowgli is flourishing in the open, spacious fields of ABRF, feeling the warmth of the sun kiss through his dense and thick coat of fur. He is often called the baby of the centre since he is one of the youngest bears under the care of Wildlife SOS, and also the wildest at heart.
We are also celebrating Mowgli’s 5th rescue anniversary and trying to picture the two different versions of him – the quiet and reserved cub as compared to his current playful and hearty self. Under the care of our veterinarians and bear care staff, he has grown much stronger because of the healthy and nutritious food he eats.
Even though it is the peak of winter in Agra, spending most of his time outside in the enclosure’s field just goes to show he is always curious and looking for an adventure. Over time, Mowgli has formed a close bond with an older bear named Manali and can be seen spending a portion of his time with her in the open field. While Manali is the calmer of the two, Mowgli is rambunctious and always upto some mischief. He is always alert and he is quick to wake up at the slightest sounds. His caregivers often hide enrichments and treats around the enclosure when he is asleep. However, Mowgli is quick to catch up on them no matter how silently they tread.
For the major part of his day, Mowgli keeps himself busy with tyre feeders, treat-filled enrichment balls and his attempts to demolish the structural wooden log enrichments in his field. He usually brings the wooden logs inside his den and keeps playing with them for long durations.
Being a young bear, one can rarely see him rest for long like our other bears do in winters (basking in the mud pits). Instead you will see him running around playing with enrichment toys, and if he does not find any, he makes one out of the tree logs. Mowgli is a healthy bear and enjoys all his meals including his honey-filled warm porridge for the winters, but has a special love for watermelons.
On his fifth rescueversary, we are glad to see him prosper and flourish into a beautiful bear and want to extend our gratitude to our supporters in helping us provide a safe home for Mowgli at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. Please consider becoming a monthly donor or sponsor to support his care and upkeep.