Environment

Sloth Bear: The cute creature who entertains you at the cost of its life

Written by KARTIKEYA KUMAR

He’s (or she’s) just like your plump friend, who’s not too tall, and likes to keep himself busy with things. But he’s not always friendly, definitely not as friendly as dogs, and you might not like to have him in your bedroom. And the sucking sounds it makes while eating can be heard 100 meters away. It’s the sloth bear.

sloth bear

source:indianaturewatch

Sloth bears are omnivorous and nocturnal species, which set out in the dark to feed on insects (termites and ants) and fresh fruit (mango, fig and ebony). They use their sharp claws to penetrate through nest mounds, close their nostrils and use the gap between their teeth to suck the insects like a vacuum cleaner. Sloth bears can grow up to six feet in height and a full grown male sloth can weigh up to 310 pounds (140 kilograms), while a female weighs 210 pounds.

Talking of care, sloth bear are the only species of bear that carry their young ones on their back. And with their similar black colour, you can almost never distinguish between the parent and the child. It would be difficult to say that a sloth bear would befriend any human that comes it way-in fact, it might attack you as it cannot trust you easily. The animal is as such an isolated species from its own race, and like most wild animals, prefers privacy over being tamed by humans.

Preparing the sloth bear for a street play. (source:indiasendangered)

Preparing the bear for a street play. (source:indiasendangered)

But their vulnerable nature has often led to ill-treatment by humans. Since the animal lot more tameable than any other bear, they are made to perform on the streets by street performers, much like monkeys. But that’s not all-their teeth are removed, male sloth’s are castrated at an early age and when not provided proper food, turn blind. But still, the poor and innocent animal would not know how to escape, and is widely enjoyed by children and adults alike, without realizing the pain of the animal.

Anyone who tells you that this practice is now banned, is either lying or not fully informed. Travel to some of the remote areas, or even the suburban part of metros, and you’ll come across such street plays with sloth bears.

 The sloth bear is an endangered species, mostly found in India and Sri Lanka, where the current population has gone down below 2000. The least you can do to save them is not enjoy their shows and report to the police if any human is carrying the animal around.

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