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Monday, April 22 2024
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India

World’s largest rescue centre in Taj city celebrates ‘World Bear Day’

Bear
Photo Credit : IANS

Agra : World’s largest sloth bear centre at Soor Sarovar bird sanctuary in Agra has done pioneering work in the rescue and rehabilitation of this wildlife species.

The facility set up by the Wildlife SOS, in 1998, has saved hundreds of sloth bears, from cruelty inflicted by “kalandars” who used to make them dance, for a living.

“Some 30 years ago it was common sight to see flocks of tourists being entertained on the Fatehpur Sikri road, by dancing bears. The kalandars often used to move around the streets with bears to entertain kids,” said environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.

Over the years, the Wildlife SOS has continued to provide the rehabilitated sloth bears love and care at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, the largest sloth bear rescue and rehabilitation centre globally.

The Agra Centre has been dedicated to resolving the cruel and barbaric practice of making sloth bears dance on the streets for tourist entertainment. The indigenous community of ‘Kalandars’ used to exploit these creatures by poaching bear cubs and subjecting them to cruelty, including piercing their muzzles with red-hot iron pokers and forcing them to perform for monetary gain. This practice was not only inhumane but also illegal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.

In nearly three decades of sustained work, the Wildlife SOS has rescued a staggering 628 sloth bears from such exploitation, with the last bear rescued from the streets in 2009.

The organisation operates four sloth bear rescue and rehabilitation centres across India, with the Agra Bear Rescue Facility being the largest in the world.

At present, the Agra Bear Rescue Facility is home to nearly 100 rescued sloth bears, providing them with a safe haven to heal from their traumatic past. The bears receive specialised care from dedicated veterinarians and animal care staff, ensuring their physical and psychological well-being.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, said, “Each day at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility begins with a nutritious meal of porridge, followed by seasonal fruits, and another serving of porridge in the evening. To stimulate their bodies and minds, the bears are provided with various enrichments in their forested enclosures, promoting natural behaviours to enhance their quality of life.”

Bears still face issues such as loss of their home, encroachment of their habitats, retaliation due to lack of behaviour awareness, to name a few.

Baiju Raj M.V, Director, Conservation Projects for Wildlife SOS, said, “In addition to dietary care, the bears are also administered oral multi-vitamins and liver supplements to support their overall health and vitality. Through these comprehensive efforts, Wildlife SOS aims to give these bears a second chance at life, free from exploitation and suffering.”

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