Rescued dancing bear tragically dies after she’s secretly sent to substandard zoo
We helped rescue Nepal’s last dancing bears, Rangila and Sridevi, in December. But we’re devastated to learn they were taken to a poor welfare zoo, where Sridevi died. We’re urging the government to reveal why the bears were taken there and ensure it protects Rangila, the surviving bear
Late last year, we dramatically helped rescue two sloth bears from their horrendous lives as dancing bears, along with the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal and Nepal police. They were cruelly forced to entertain people, and suffered immensely.
Discussions with Nepalese and Indian authorities, before and during the bears’ rescue, identified the Wildlife SOS Bear Sanctuary in Agra, India as the best place to provide them with lifetime care. But the bears were sadly not brought to the sanctuary. If they had been, Sridevi might still be alive.
Rangila and Sridevi were taken to Jawalakhel Zoo following authorisation from Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
The zoo has previously been criticised for its extremely poor and substandard conditions.
The decision to move the bears was made without consulting us or the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal. It’s unclear why, when and how the two bears were relocated from Parsa National Park to Jawalakhel Central Zoo and the government is yet to share this information with us. We have also not been told the cause of Sridevi’s death.
Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director said: "We are devastated to learn of Sridevi’s death. Our recent emotional rescue was intended to give her a life away from cruel captivity and her welfare was our top priority. We hoped that she would live the remainder of her life free from harm in a nurturing environment.
Our senior wildlife advisor Neil D’Cruze said: "Right now, we are urgently investigating what happened to Sridevi and urging the relevant government authorities to ensure the rapid transport of the second surviving bear, Rangila to a specialist sloth bear sanctuary in India."
Unacceptable conditions for Rangila
Currently the Nepal government is satisfied with Rangila’s conditions. But recent video footage of Rangila at Jawalakhel Zoo shows him pacing back and forth and head-weaving. These are both clear signs of psychological trauma.
We’re concerned that the zoo is not equipped to provide the necessary and proper care for Rangila. The zoo’s conditions are a far cry from the life he was destined to have at the bear sanctuary in India.
Manoj Gautam, Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, said: “The sanctuary in Agra which was set to receive the bears have vets, caretakers and it’s a facility where the bears are brought to live and be protected for the rest of their lives.
"The central zoo in Kathmandu on the other hand is an overcrowded facility with poor conditions – we really are appalled that their lives have taken this twisted turn."
Nepal government must act now
Along with the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, we are in contact with Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
We’ve been told that it will approach the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation for approval to transfer Rangila to the bear sanctuary in India. However, we’re very concerned that this process will be hindered by the recent elections in Nepal, which has left key roles within the Ministry unclear.
We’re urging relevant authorities in Nepal and India to urgently sign the papers required to send Rangila across the border to a place that can give him the care and protection he so desperately deserves.
We cannot allow Rangila to meet the same fate as Sridevi. The Nepal government must work quickly to ensure Rangila’s safety.