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Balkasar’s newest resident enjoys first taste of freedom

Dec 17, 2010

After a period in quarantine the doors to Chowti's new, safe, outdoor enclosure opened and she was coaxed out with food.

Pakistan’s Balkasar sanctuary now welcomes its newest – and perhaps most delicate – resident, Chowti, who was recently saved from the horrors of bear baiting.

Thanks to the efforts of WSPA’s Pakistani member organization, Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), the 6-year old blind Asiatic black bear was recently rescued right after a horrific baiting event, and is now recovering from her wounds in the serenity of a spacious new enclosure.
 
Chowti’s vulnerable state and unfamiliarity with the other bears at the sanctuary means that – for the moment – she is in her own 5-acre enclosure, which she has been exploring and enjoying.  

First tentative steps of discovery

Due to her blindness and terrible past life experiences, it took 40 minutes for Chowti to move out of her quarantine area into the main enclosure. She was eventually coaxed out into her spacious new home with some food.

BRC’s Chief Executive Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas describes Chowti’s release: “At first, she was very hesitant. She would only come into the enclosure if there was a trail of food and, even then, she would stay very close the walls and wouldn’t go very far. After awhile though, I sensed a change in Chowti – she started walking around for the first time in her life without any chains, wounds or restriction, savoring her first real taste of freedom.”

As close to nature as possible

Chowti took time to timidly explore her new home using her sense of smell to familiarise herself and sticking to structures and borders.

The enclosure is designed to contain as many features and comforts of a bear’s natural habitat as possible – an unimaginably rich environment for a deprived bear like Chowti. The enclosure features two pools, approximately 100 small trees, man-made and natural climbing structures, and shaded areas made from dried grass. Staff members say that Chowti has developed a great interest in exploring acacia shrubs.

Chowti can now forage for her own food, but Balkasar’s staff members still feed her a varied diet – lentils, grains, aniseed, millet, potatoes, apples, corn, chicken, carrots, sugar cane and boiled eggs – until she’s comfortable doing so.

And, although Chowti is alone for the moment, getting to terms with her new surroundings, staff members expect that she’ll soon be joined by other bears who WSPA and BRC rescue from a life of bear baiting in Pakistan.

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Dogs attack during a bear baiting event, Pakistan