I just received the following urgent facebook message from my friend Kartick Satyanarayan, Director and Co-Founder of India’s Wildlife SOS at 5:37 PM (Alaska Time), September 1st, 2011:
Hey Jordan – Hands full with floods at the Agra Bear Sanctuary. Will be in touch soon. Pls see update on floods on fb and website.”
Named for the goddess diety of the river, the Yamuna river–the largest tributary of the Ganges–is wreaking havoc on the Agra region of India.
The city of Agra, located in India’s northern state of Utter Pradesh, is home to the famous Taj Mahal and to a facility housing some of the last dancing bears in the world.
The semiarid climate of Agra sports a monsoon season which has generated massive flooding in the area, forcing Agra Bear Center veterinarians and bear keepers to move bears to higher ground.
To Westerners, the Agra Bear Rescue Center may be the most well-known of animal sanctuaries managed by Wildlife SOS–an internationally known animal rescue organization which provides sanctuary and rehabilitation for bears, India’s big cats, Asian elephants and other indigenous wildlife from the region.
Wildlife SOS runs four sanctuaries for sloth bears and Asiatic black bear and was instrumental in removing the last dancing bear from the streets of India. With a mission to conserve sloth bears in the wild and rehabilitate sloth bears in captivity, Wildlife SOS may be the leading charity (non-profit) dedicated to providing a future for the world’s sloth bears for generations to come.
First entertaining emperors some 400 years ago, the sloth bear until recently, was exploited on the streets of North India by the Kalandars–descendants of wandering Sufi dervishes. The staff from Wildlife SOS helped removed the last of the dancing bears in December of 2009.
As Kartick reported at an international bear conference in July, “Wildlife SOS has rescued 600 performing bears and given a permanent home and lifetime of care to these animals in their rehabilitation centers throughout India.”
To help the Agra bears, please visit the Wildlife SOS website listed above.