Sloth Bears!

Along with elephants we also worked with Sloth Bears at the sanctuary. The Sloth Bears here were former “dancing bears.” Dancing bears are taken from their mothers when they are newborn and tortured and made to dance for tourists and locals alike. These bears had been rescued and have been at the sanctuary for years, but still were recovering mentally from their past trauma. (The sanctuary helped to end this horrific 400-year-old dancing bear practice in 2009, rescuing over 600 bears and giving alternative livelihoods to their keepers.)

We would begin our days with the Sloth Bears by making large wooden platforms for the bears to climb and sleep on. We made a three story wooden platform on our last day, it was the largest they have built so far. We watched as the bear keepers put honey on the platforms then the bears would be released. The bears climbed slowly, taking their time to get up the platform. The monkeys tried to steal the honey, but Alden saved the day by showing off his rock throwing skills to scare away the monkeys, and allowing the bears to get their honey.

From there we cleaned out the bears’ cages. After we had finished cleaning we went to get the bears dinner of Porridge. We would put the huge tubs of porridge on a cart and pull them to the bears’ dens. Then we would distribute the porridge into huge bowls and then bring the bowls to each bear’s den. All the work with the porridge took about thirty minutes (not including the hours it takes to cook it!); the bears would eat the porridge in less than a minute. They slurped it up.