The story of Kasthuri
Back in 2007, a rescue team sent out by our partners Wildlife SOS, rescued a bear later named Kasthuri from a Kalandar settlement in West Bengal. At only six months old, the only life she knew was filled with an incredible amount of pain and misery.
As part of her indoctrination as a dancing bear, she would have had a huge, red hot, iron poker forcibily shoved through her muzzle. A rope would have then been fed through the fresh wound, ensuring that the wound would never heal and giving her captors complete control over her. Every time the rope was tugged, Kasthuri would jump up on her hind legs to help alieviate some of the pain. This would make it look like she could dance on command. People, tourists in particular, would pay her captors money to treat her this way. Truly disgusting treatment for such a beautiful creature.
Stressed and in unbearable pain through the cruelty and negligence, her condition upon rescue was heart wrenching. If Kasthuri had never been saved, she would have faced many years of unimaginable suffering. Imagine having a raw, fresh and infected wound on your nose, with a rope tugged through it, every single day of your life.
When Kasthuri arrived at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Center in Bangalore, the signs of the physical abuse she had gone through were visibly evident. She was missing some of her teeth and had a distinctly mutilated muzzle. The physical abuse was only the beginning, the daily fear of being beaten and forced to dance had taken a huge toll on her mental health as well.
Our team of veterinarians worked day and night to help her overcome the physical and emotional wounds. They also started to work on building her trust for humans. After having faced such horrible brutality, it is no surprise that Kasthuri was wary and distrustful of people.
Eventually, Kasthuri came to trust and accept her keeper, Hussain Basha.
Today, Kasthuri fits in very well with all the other rehabilitated bears at the rescue centre. She enjoys her food and eats pretty much anything she can, but definitely has a fondness for watermelon, honey and dates. She hangs out with her closest companions, Vimal and Kashi.
Being the youngest of the three, Kasthuri is filled with energy and is always urging Vimal and Kashi to join her on the enrichment activities. These activities include rolling honey logs and digging up insect mounds, just to name a couple.
Although Kasthuri will never be able to be released, she will enjoy the rest of her life in peace and comfort at our rescue centre. After such a horrible start to life, the least we can do is try to amend the cruel injustices she suffered at the hands of humanity. We all wish Kasthuri and her companions many more happy years at the rescue center. Filled with plenty of watermelon, vast quantities of honey and most of all, happiness.