Porridge, jaggery, puffed rice balls for bears at rescue centres this winter

The non-profit charity Wildlife SOS has arranged special diet for the Sloth bears, Asiatic bears and Himalayan brown bears at its rescue centres 

RH Staff

December 30

As the temperatures drop in North India, the bears at the rescue centres are getting a special attention – courtesy the Wildlife SOS. 

The non-governmental organisation has made special arrangement for the Sloth bears, Asiatic black bears and the Himalayan brown bears at the rescue centres in Agra, Bhopal and Jammu and Kashmir regions of India. 

“As part of the winter care management plans, the NGO adopts various measures to keep the bears warm and comfortable,” the Wildlife SOS said in a release. 

 The organisation has arranged a special diet that includes porridge, jaggery and puffed rice balls for the Sloth bears in its Agra – the world’s largest Sloth bear rescue facility – and Bhopal rescue centres. 

“At the Agra Bear Rescue Facility and the Van Vihar Bear Rescue Facility in Bhopal,  the Sloth bears enjoy a special winter diet consisting of warm porridge, broth, puffed rice balls and jaggery (molasses) to help boost immunity and induce body heat,” said the release. “These bears share a history of victimisation to the cruel ‘dancing’ bear trade and had arrived in pitiable conditions at the NGO’s centres which are run in collaboration with the state forest department”. 

With intense cold gripping North India and the temperatures plummeting several notches below the zero in Kashmir, the bears are provided with special care. 

“Special care is taken for geriatric (aged) bears under our care—their enclosures are covered with tarpaulin sheets to shield them from the cold, there is warm bedding material with woollen blankets and dry grass or hay, and halogen lamps and heaters are installed outside the sleeping dens,” says the official release. 

Understanding that winter care calls for special attention to be given to the bears’ immunity, the veterinary team has introduced feed additives such as liver tonics, vitamin and mineral supplements along with protein. It is of utmost priority that their health is not compromised and all of us get to witness more of the bears as they play around in their favourite season,” the release quoted Baiju Raj M.V, Director Conservation Projects Wildlife SOS as saying. 

 The non-profit is running two bear rescue facilities in Kashmir – at Dachigam and Pahalgam. 

“Dietary modifications are not the only changes seen in the bears’ management and it is supplemented by measures to keep them shielded externally,” says Aaliya Mir, Education Officer and Programme Head- Jammu & Kashmir, Wildlife SOS. “The increase their movement, we occasionally hide the apples in the bears’ enclosures which makes their time more playful. When it comes to keeping them warm physically, the staff use plenty of hay and dry grass.”

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