Updated: Jul 18, 2022
If you had read my previous blog, you would know that I traveled to India over my school term break. Within this trip, I went to Agra, where I was able to see the Wildlife SOS Bear Rehabilitation Center, Elephant Care and Conservation Center, and India's first Elephant Hospital. Using money generously donated by supporters of @ayansartforconservation, I was able to adopt a bear named Arthur, nicknamed Harry Potter.
The reason I chose to adopt Arthur was because I felt a special connection with him. He curiously followed us within his enclosure as we explored the facility, which was very cute. He also jumped on the edge of his enclosure to 'get a better look' at us. This reminded my of what my dog Eminem does to newcomers entering our home. This is why I chose to adopt Arthur.
Arthur, © Wildlife SOS
I asked Mr. Shivam Rai about Arthur, and his story that lead him to the Wildlife SOS Bear Rehabilitation Center.
Ayan: How did Arthur come to the Bear Rescue Centre?
Mr. Rai: Arthur and his family were found in 2019 in a remote forested area near the Indo-Nepal border area. Based on the intelligence provided by Wildlife SOS, the traffickers were intercepted by the Jharkhand forest department and police, and the bears were safely transferred to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. Arthur was approximately10 years old at the time of rescue and is currently 13 years of age
Ayan: What was Arthur's condition when he came to Wildlife SOS?
Mr. Rai: Arthur’s teeth were smashed and his muzzle was pierced in order to prepare him to become a dancing bear. Such measures allow poachers to handle the bears without the risk of being bitten.
Ayan: Why can't Arthur and other rescue bears like him, be released back into the wild?
Mr. Rai: Arthur and other rescued bears like him can not be released back into the wild as poaching robs them of their ability to survive in the wild. Methods like smashing a bear's teeth or piercing their muzzle lead to lifelong health complications. Numerous bears require dental surgery after or a procedure to remove the piercing from their snout. From there on, they require constant medical observation to ensure their injuries do not get infected. Further, if poached as cubs, bears are snatched from their mothers. This inhibits them from learning natural ways of surviving in the wild.
Ayan: Who are Arthur's best friends?
Mr. Rai: His best friend is Molly. The two bears continue to share an enclosure. Arthur came to us as part of a family of 5 bears, who were affectionately named after Harry Potter characters. Molly and he are the oldest of the group. Ron, Ginny and Charlie are the younger bears.
Arthur (L) and Molly (R), © Wildlife SOS
Ayan: How does he spend a typical day?
Mr. Rai: Arthur spends his day outside, sniffing around for a new adventure. He has various enrichments to make sure he stays cognitively and physically stimulated. He also spends a lot of time playing with Molly. The two are always running behind each other or mock wrestling.
Ayan: What kinds of physical and mental enrichments does Arthur play with?
Mr. Rai: Arthur has a climbing frame which is a one-story platform made out of a strong frame of logs of wood and rope. He also has a hammock which is made out of a fire hose and attached to his climbing frame. There is the fruit barrel made out of 3 pieces of wood and a big drum with holes to put in fruits that Arthur can then extract. His enclosure also has termite mounds made out of cement and Aussie Dog Balls which are balls with an opening on one side through which treats are hidden. All of these enrichments help Arthur stay physically and mentally active as they require him to use his natural foraging abilities.
Arthur, © Wildlife SOS
Ayan: What does he like to eat?
Mr. Rai: Arthur’s favorite food is watermelon and apple. He is given an assortment of fresh fruits and porridge daily to help him remain healthy.
Ayan: Is he a friendly bear, a shy bear or a fierce bear?
Mr. Rai: Arthur is a friendly yet shy bear! He is always curious and will follow visitors around if crossing their enclosure.
Ayan: What do Arthur's keepers say about him - any special stories or fun facts?
Mr. Rai: Arthur’s caregiver, Durgesh, shares a special bond with him and has noticed that he thoroughly enjoys climbing trees! He is not afraid of tackling the tallest tree in his enclosure, even though he might fail to climb it successfully.
Arthur, © Wildlife SOS
Thank you to everyone you helped raise money for the adoption of Arthur. By doing this, you are supporting Wildlife SOS and their mission to eliminate all abusive captivity in India.
I also want to thank Mr. Shivam Rai for being wonderful guide at the Wildlife SOS facilities, as well as taking the time to answer my questions.