Agra, Dec 1 (IANS) Five sloth bears seized from wildlife traffickers from near the Indo-Nepal border last year celebrated one year of freedom at the world’s largest sloth bear rehabilitation centre here on Tuesday.
To celebrate the special day, the animal care staff at the centre organised a fruit feast for the bears.
The five sloth bears were brought by wildlife traffickers from the Indo-Nepal border areas into the Deogarh district of Jharkhand. The offenders were planning to sell these animals to other middlemen.
Bear bile, gall bladders and other body parts are used in Chinese traditional medicines, making the bear a vulnerable target for this reason. By the timely rescue of these bears by the enforcement authorities, they were saved from trafficking and a lifetime of torture.
Following formal orders from the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh forest departments, the bears were transferred to the 16- acre Agra Bear Rescue Facility. This is the largest bear rehabilitation centre in the world for this species, run by the Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh forest department.
The bears have been named after the Weasley family from the popular children’s book series ‘Harry Potter’. Aged between 3 and 11 years, Arthur and Molly are the oldest in the group, followed with Ron, Ginny and Charlie.
In the past year, the bears have shown remarkable progress and are receiving the best possible treatment and care. They have access to large free-range enclosures, equipped with different enrichments that encourage physical activity and give them a chance to display natural behaviour.
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS, said, “The timely intervention by the enforcement authorities helped save the lives of these bears. They deserve a life of dignity and freedom, and we are happy to see them grow stronger and healthier under the dedicated care of the staff and the veterinarians.”
S Ilayaraja, Wildlife SOS Deputy Director, Veterinary Services, said, “At the time of rescue, the bears were in terrible condition. Their muzzles were pierced and teeth were smashed in, which required immediate treatment. It is reassuring to see that our efforts have made a positive difference in their lives.”
Geeta Seshamani, Secretary and Co-founder, Wildlife SOS, said, “The bears are quite active and have adapted well to their new home. It fills our hearts with absolute joy watching them simply be bears again.”