Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Meals in bed and plenty of playing and digging: a day in the life of Nakul the bear cub

Wildlife correspondent Aishu Sudarshan introduces a resident of our bear rescue facility in Bannerghatta

Nakul soon after he first came to our centre
Fifteen month old Nakul came to the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre as a three month old cub who was scared and intimidated by the number of people around him. Nakul and his brother Kuber were rescued from poachers in Karnataka who had killed their mother and stolen the two cubs.  After they were rescued by the law enforcement agencies and the forest department they were taken to BBRC and that was when it all changed. For the first three months of his life Nakul didn’t have a home, he was with humans all the time, was hidden in a gunny bag when the situation called for it and was shown off to various interested buyers.

On his first day at the centre, Nakul was terrified: he perhaps feared us as prospective buyers and would scream if anyone touched him. The minute he entered the enclosure, he ran to the water trough and finished off almost every drop. His journey and his fear of the crowd had made him thirsty! We were sure Nakul was hungry too so the boys cut some watermelons, papayas and pomegranates and offered it to him. It took less than five minutes before the plate was licked clean and he sniffed around searching for any pieces that he had missed!

Nakul loves his hammock!
Thankfully Nakul’s muzzle wasn’t pierced and his canines were intact. He was just bruised in various places and had small wounds here and there - apart from that he was a healthy cub.  He started growing stronger and more active as the days passed and was equally mischievous: he would climb everything in sight and chew on everything possible. We still remember the first time he sat on a hammock. We were sure he was in love. He would expect everything to be brought to the hammock: the boys had to move the water closer so he could just bend and drink it whenever he felt like it, and even his fruits had to be given there! His infatuation hasn’t died down: even a year later the hammock is Nakul’s favourite object.

Nakul now enjoys life at BBRC
Today, Nakul weighs 45 kgs and is dewormed and vaccinated. He is a determined boy who can pull a whole watermelon down from the enrichment after trying for a while. He enjoys papayas, apples and loves porridge.

It has been a long journey for Nakul and his brother and we are glad they are here now and no longer in the hands of heartless people who would have made them dance and traipse along the streets for hours on end. We also hope Nakul continues to enjoy his hammock, relish the fruits and porridge and pass his time happily digging and wrestling with his brother.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Introducing Ambika

Wildlife correspondent Aishu Sudarshan introduces another of the residents at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. 

Everyone at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility still remembers when Ambika arrived. It was winter and things seemed even gloomier when we saw how badly neglected she was. She had not a single tooth in her mouth. She was undernourished, smelly and miserable. We believe she understood things were going to change though, because she was quiet and allowed the keepers and vets to approach her with great docility. Her first diagnosis was a poor appetite and a septic muzzle; an enlarged liver and congested lungs. It took her a while even to understand that fruits are to be eaten, because for six years all she had been fed on were plain rotis (Indian bread).

Today Ambika is a healthy 121 kg bear who doesn’t just eat her fruits but relishes them. Her biggest discovery since the day she arrived is eggs! She loves them and will always be the first one to eat the boiled eggs in her porridge. She is now healthy, active and has a luxuriant coat. When she isn’t dreaming about eggs she enjoys playing with Abha and Archana at mock fighting, wrestling, and climbing the platforms.

Her keeper says Ambika’s favourite pastime is to empty all the water from the trough. She loves playing with it and will be seen splashing around and slurping water most of the time. We are always glad when a bear is doing what she loves, whether it is snuffling out eggs in her porridge, play wrestling with her friends - or making waves in the water trough!