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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR's partners in India rescue a badly burnt bear

Bruno the bearIAR's partners in India have carried out an unusual rescue mission to save a wild bear that had been electrocuted. The young male of about 15 months old had his muzzle badly burnt and was completely blinded in one eye after climbing an electricity transmission pole in search of honey.

Wildlife SOS received an urgent call from the Forest Department asking them to send a vet to the Nilgiri Blue Mountain area of southern India. Villagers in a remote area had found a bear crying in pain and unable to move. Vet Dr Arun travelled to the village to see what he could do to help the injured animal.

The juvenile sloth bear had ventured out of the safe protected areas of surrounding countryside in search of food. Having discovered a honeycomb on the top of an electricity transmission pole he had set about climbing it. The young bear must have been extremely determined to reach the honey to climb the slippery metal pole. However the top was bristling with high tension wires which electrocuted him and he fell 30 metres into a thorny bush.

When Dr Arun reached the injured bear he immediately tranquillised him. Then he was lifted out of the thorny bush and found to be badly injured and clearly in great pain. His muzzle was severely burnt and he had been blinded in one eye by the electric shock. He looked in danger of losing the other eye too but Dr Arun managed to prevent this by immediately treating the inflammation. The bear was given a thorough examination before being taken on an 85 km journey on a truck over a rough and dusty track to Mudumalai where an xray machine was available. Xrays confirmed that the bear had a fracture of the femur and the bone damage had to be fixed using a plate. Now called Bruno, the young bear was soon recovering well from the surgery and did not seem unduly scared of his human rescuers.

The keepers in charge of the recovering bear kept him happy with little treats of honey-coated peanuts and coconut pieces which he adores. Bruno will never recover the sight in his left eye and his muzzle is still raw and painful. However, he is responding well to treatment and it is hoped that he can soon be released in a wooded area close to where he was found, although all attempts to find his mother or a sibling have failed. It is unusual for such a young bear to be on his own as mother bears normally care for their young until they are at least two years old.

Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue, said: "This young bear was lucky to escape with his life after being so badly burnt. If it hadn’t been for the various people who stepped in to help him, he would have been left in terrible pain and who knows whether he would even have survived. Thanks to the villagers, the Forest Department and Dr Arun of Wildlife SOS, he’s now on the road to recovery and will soon be ready to return to the wild. Let’s hope he’s learned a valuable lesson - to steer clear of electricity transmission poles, even if they do have a honeycomb at the top!"