Meet Rangila. When this 19 year old sloth bear was rescued after spending two decades dancing for tourists, it looked like he was finally going to live the amazing life that he deserved. Sadly, things took a turn for the worse.
Ranglia was born in the wild, but the poor thing was ripped apart from this mother when he was just a little cub. He was then sold into the entertainment business. The animal trainer who purchased the bear pierced his snout (a bear’s snout is VERY sensitive) with a hot needle and then threaded a rope through it. Rangila was forced to “dance” on the streets. The trainer would often yank on the rope to make him move on demand and perform tricks.
Forcing bears to dance has been illegal in Nepal since an animal welfare act was passed way back in 1973. However, such inhuman practices still exist. Rangila’s trainer found a way to keep performing illegally by staying away from tourist hotspots and busy towns. He managed to do this for almost 20 years.
However, in January, Rangila was rescued thanks to the joint efforts of World Animal Protection (WAP) and the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) of Nepal. He was saved alongside a 17 year old female sloth bear called Sridevi, who had also been forced to perform on the streets. Working side by side with local authorities, the rescue team tracked down the trainers and convinced them to surrender the bears.
The rescuers arranged for the abused duo be transferred to the Wildlife SOS Sanctuary in Agra, India. There, bear specialists would look after Rangila and Sridevi’s physical and emotional health, finally letting them retire in peace.
Parsa National Park in Nepal was the first stop on the bears’ journey to India. Rangila and Sridevi would be temporarily held at an on-site facility until they could safely cross the border to India. According to sources, the bears seemed to calm down as soon as they entered the forested road leading to the park.
“You could just instantly see that the bears were so much more relaxed,” Neil D’Cruze, wildlife technical expert for WAP, said. “It was great to see that it was all worth it.”
Sadly, the bears never made to the sanctuary across the border. On the 1st of March, D’Cruze discovered that Rangila and Sridevi had been secretly moved Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Nepal instead. Central Zoo is Nepal’s only zoo and it is infamous for its lack of animal welfare standards.
“It’s a heartbreaking situation,” D’Cruze says. “We were ensured … that the bears were taken to a facility [in Parsa National Park] that was located relatively close to the border in India. It should have been the easy point of transfer to send them over to the specialist bear sanctuary there.”
D’Cruze and his team started an investigation instantly, but they still have no idea about when, how or why the duo were transferred to Central Zoo. They did manage to figure out that Nepali officials working in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation were responsible for Ranglia and Sridevi’s transfer. This was done without consultation with either WAP or JGI Nepal.
To make matters worse, they received the upsetting news that Sridevi recently died in the zoo premises. They don’t know the cause or any further details at the moment.
“We are devastated to learn of Sridevi’s death,” D’Cruze said in a statement. “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.”
D’Cruze says that zoo and government officials in Nepal have tried to assure him that Ranglia is alive and doing well, but he has his doubts. A heart-breaking video footage shows the poor bear pacing back and forth in his very tiny cage, looking distraught and traumatized.
“The footage that I’ve seen confirms our worst fears,” D’Cruze said. “He’s being kept in a small enclosure with no enrichment, and he’s showing really telltale stereotypic behaviors — mewling, paw sucking, swaying, pacing up and down.”
“Any change of setting is likely to be a shock to the bear’s system and must be handled carefully with expertise,” D’Cruze added. ” The Central Zoo is not properly equipped to receive bears who have suffered abusive lives.”
D’Cruze and the team are resolute in rescuing Rangila once again, and to get him to the sanctuary where he was supposed to go to in the first place. The progress has been painfully slow, but the man believes pressuring the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal is the main key to Ranglia’s release from the Central Zoo.
They don’t want Rangila to die at the zoo like Sridevi. “Every hour that passes by is heart-breaking,” D’Cruze says.
However, he has not yet lost hope and believes that Rangila’s life can be saved. “Rangila has had such a terrible life so far, and we’re so close…we have to stay positive.”
Please play a part in helping Rangila by contacting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal, as well as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Urge them to help the team get the bear out of the zoo and into the sanctuary. WAP is also encouraging the public to write social media posts about Rangila and tag the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Don’t forget to SHARE this to your friends and families. It could save Ranglia’s life!