Surrogate mothers who take bear cubs on a walk in the forest

Taking out pet animals on a walk is commonplace but ever fancied taking a bear cub out on a walk in the woods?

Debahutee Roy is one such animal keeper in Arunachal Pradesh whose job is to take caged bear cubs out on long walks so that the omnivorous animal acclimatises itself to wilderness of the jungle before being set free.

In a creche-like environment, Asiatic black bear cubs are hand-raised and bottle-fed at the Centre for Bear Rehabilitation and Conservation in Pakke Tiger Reserve.

Bizoo is one such orphan who lost his parents to bruteless hunters.

Roy, a wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), acts as his surrogate mother and takes him out on day-long walks to show him how life looks like in the forest.

Initially reluctant to leave the secured environs of his caged home, Bizoo ran to the nearby river and started to swim on his first excursion.

“He got himself dirty in the mud, got back into the river and ran around like there was no tomorrow. He would climb trees, dig earth and his actions were quite similar to that of a child who has just learnt to walk,” says the caretaker.

Along with a veterinary, she spends a fun time playing hide and seek with the furry animal looking for food with its long snout.

Just like humans, it has the ability to stand on its two legs.

It is during this period that the intelligent creature also learns how to catch fish for food.

“It begins by catching insects, beatles and then realises it can also catch fish. The cub also hones other skills necessary for independent survival in the wild,” N V K Ashraf, in-charge of the bear rehab centre said.

The soft release method using ‘walk the bear’ technique gives the bear cubs a longer acclimatisation period at the site of their future home by lessening their overall time in captivity.