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The First Rescues of Bears in India

The First Rescues of Bears in India

At Christmas 2002, the first sanctuary for bears in India opened its doors at Agra.  The site is managed by the Indian association Wildlife SOS with funding from international associations.  The sanctuary provides a safe haven for bears rescued from the barbaric practice of being made to ‘dance’ for the amusement of tourists; a practice which involves, amongst other things, a cruel piercing of the animal’s muzzle, which, like a dog’s, is one of the most sensitive areas of its body.  The Kalandars gypsies who, traditionally have earned their livelihoods performing this practice, are being offered a professional ‘reconversion’ in the form of alternative employment, in order that they may stop performing this illegal activity permanently.

This operation has the objective of putting an end to the exploitation of bears in India.  Its success has been unhoped-for.  Already a waiting list has been assembled and the government of the Utta Pradesh province has proposed new sites in protected areas in order to expand the sanctuary.

The mission of One Voice is to inform tourists that by giving money to watch the bears ‘dance’, they are in fact encouraging this barbaric practice.  One Voice also endeavors to collect funds in order to extend the sanctuary, pay for the care of the bears and put in place an anti-poaching unit in the forest.


The rope is removed from the muzzle of Rani, the first bear to be set free after 400 years of ‘tradition’ and 30 years of illegal practices (the Indian law now forbids the training of bears associated with acts of cruelty and endangering the species).


Rani goes outside for the first time.

Indy, upon her arrival at the sanctuary on the 29th December.  She is only 8 years old but is partially blind; her condition caused by the poor feeding that she has endured.  The infection in her muzzle is an old one which will necessitate extensive veterinary treatment.


Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Satish, lives permanently at the sanctuary and offers first aid to Indy.


Indy in the presence of Kalandar who brought her into the sanctuary.  Kalandar will benefit from a professional reconversion proposed by Wildlife SOS.

A few moments after being set free, Rani discovers her natural surroundings in the socialization area of the park.

From as early as the second day, Rani chooses to sleep outside rather than in her cage.

Raja and Lune (Moon) arrive at the sanctuary on the 28th December.

A view of the sanctuary.  In the foreground, the enclosures and socialization areas of the park.  In the distance, the seven hectares of forest in which the first fifty bears will soon be released.


Carjol, a five year-old female bear.

Lalloo has suffered through having his muzzle pierced three separate times; twice after he had reached adult-hood.  The absesses and internal wounds will necessitate an operation which will be performed after he has had time to regain his strength with correct feeding.


Baloo, spotted by our investigator in September (see One of report), has a serious muzzle infection.