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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Two sloth bears moved by IAR and WSOS for emergency medical care in India

The cage at the zoo where the bears were being kept

Two sloth bears housed in a very small cage in an Indian zoo have been shifted by IAR’s partners Wildlife SOS (WSOS) to the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre (BBRC) for specialised treatment and medical care. International Animal Rescue is the sole UK funder of BBRC and three more bear rescue facilities managed by Wildlife SOS in Agra, West Bengal and Bhopal.

The rescue operation involved a 600km all night drive to a zoo in Chitradurga, southern India. A team led by WSOS Senior Vet Dr Arun A Sha travelled through the night to reach the weak and malnourished bears as soon as possible.

Dr Arun anaesthetised the bears in order to examine them and ensure they were fit enough to travel. Once he was satisfied that they could withstand the long journey, they were shifted into two transport cages and loaded onto a waiting truck that had come with the WSOS team for the purpose and transported quickly and efficiently to the BBRC.

The anesthetised bear in the cage where he has been living

Dr Arun’s initial medical assessment found that the two male bears were severely underweight. One in particular looks to be as little as half his normal weight and extremely stunted in size. One bear is between 6 and 7 years old, the other between 12 and 13.

The two bears were kept in a small room measuring 7 feet by 6 feet and had no access to an outdoor enclosure and so never saw the outside world or felt the warmth of the sun on their backs. The keepers could not clean the cage with the bears inside and so they had been standing for years on a damp concrete floor, leaving their paws raw and painful. The lack of proper ventilation and the constant stench of faeces and urine may also possibly be the cause of the bears’ suspected respiratory problems.

WSOS vet Dr Arun Shah assessing the bear

During the next few days, the bears will undergo a series of thorough veterinary examinations and tests by Dr Arun and his team at the rescue centre to establish the health status and reasons for their extremely poor condition while diagnosing any underlying diseases or medical conditions such as tuberculosis.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder of Wildlife SOS, said: “These two bears were in very poor health and needed immediate medical care without further delay. We are very grateful for the timely intervention by Shri B K Singh, PCCF (Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden) for authorising the urgent treatment of these two bears at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre that has specialised treatment and care facilities for bears. The animals are already undergoing veterinary treatment and put on a special well-balanced diet of fruits, honey, proteins and nutritional supplements to restore them to health.”

Alan Knight, IAR CEO, helping WSOS to bring the bears into the centre

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of IAR, was at the Bannerghatta centre at the time of the rescue operation. He said: “Almost two years to the day from when we rescued the last dancing bear off the streets of India, we have been able to help two more bears that were almost skin and bone and needed immediate help.

“Thanks to our supporters, we have the resources and the facilities to help animals like these and give them a second chance in life. After years of suffering, these bears are weak and vulnerable. But they couldn’t be in better hands and I hope soon to have news that they are on the road to recovery.”

The International Animal Rescue team was present at BBRC to receive the bears.