Rescued 'dancing' bear tragically dies after she’s secretly sent to substandard zoo

March 15 2018

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

Two sloth bears dramatically we rescued from their horrendous conditions in Nepal alongside the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, and Nepali police, have been secretly taken to a sub-standard zoo instead of their intended destination of a specialist sloth bear sanctuary in India.

Rangila (male) and Sridevi were transfered to temporary care at the Parsa National Park upon rescue. Photo courtesy of Andrew Davies - CampaignFilm LTD

The bears, Rangila, and Sridevi, who were rescued in December, have been taken to Jawalakhel Zoo following authorization from Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

We are alarmed to learn that tragically, Sridevi died whilst in the care of the zoo, which has been previously criticized for its extremely poor and substandard conditions.

The decision to move the bears was made without consultation with us or Jane Goodall Institute Nepal and it’s unclear why, when, and how, the two bears were relocated from Parsa National Park to Jawalakhel Zoo – the government has yet to share this information or the cause of Sridev’s death with us.

“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," said Neil D’Cruze, our Senior Wildlife Advisor.

“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.”

Rangila encaged at the Jawalakhel Zoo.

Currently the government is satisfied with Rangila’s conditions, but recent video footage obtained of Rangila at Jawalakhel Zoo shows him pacing back and forth and head weaving - both clear signs of psychological trauma.

We have concerns that the zoo is not equipped to provide the necessary and proper care for Rangila. It’s a far cry to the life he was destined to have at the bear sanctuary in India. 

“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," said Manoj Gautam of the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal.

“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.”

Discussions before and during the rescue with Nepalese and Indian authorities identified that the Wildlife SOS Bear Sanctuary in Agra, India, was best placed to provide lifetime care for the two bears.

However, Sloth bears are listed as a CITES I species (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species; a 1 rating applies to an animal threatened with extinction), this means that paper work, including an export permit from Nepal and an import permit from India must be granted by relevant authorities before they can cross the border from Nepal and enter India.

Almost ten years ago a rescued dancing bear was sent from Nepal so a precedent exists.

Rangila encaged at the Jawalakhel Zoo.

Alongside Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, we're in contact with the Department of National Parks and Widlife Conservation Nepal, who have informed us that that they will approach the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation for their approval (and associated CITES paperwork) to transfer Rangila to the bear sanctuary in India.

However, we are concerned that this process will be hindered by the recent elections in Nepal which has left key positions and roles within the Ministry vacant.

As there is no timeframe on these appointments, we are urging the relevant authorities in Nepal and India to ensure that the paper work is in place so that Rangila can be sent across the border to a place better equipped to care for him, immediately.

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

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