Sloth Bears:

Built to Eat Termites: Not Dance



Anu Bear
Wildlife SOS Rehabilitation Centre

The sloth bears aren’t as big as other bears, and they’re slow moving, deliberate. Their stature makes them look cuter longer and their sloth like nature makes them easier to control. These bears have been in the entertainment business for over 400 years. I’d never heard of them before today.

Here in the US we have seen bear acts; television brought us Gentle Ben and Grizzly Addams. We’ve all read the signs that say not to feed the bears, seen bears in zoos and circuses and even on YouTube. The bears actually seem to be having a good time. These bears are not treated like the dancing Sloth Bears.

There were some 800 dancing bears in Southern India when Wildlife SOS started campaigning to save them from torture. It was not an easy process and although there were claims that the last dancing bear had been saved in 2009, there were still more and the practice continued.

The poor people who owned the bears bought them as cubs and trained them to dance. That sounds cute until you hear of their methods; smashing an iron rod through their snout that smashes their molars, using the holes and rough ropes to lead the bears around. The wounds never have a chance to heal and the bears are taught to dance by beating and burning them. They’ll do anything to avoid the torture and so they learn to remember the dance, even pretending to strum a guitar if they hear one.

Wildlife SOS has taught each sloth bear owner new skills and even helped them start businesses in an effort to get them to free the animals. It’s obviously the efforts were well thought out. They didn’t just rush in and steal the bears. They understood that this was a living for the poorest of a “gypsy” like sect of people who travel to earn a meager living. That living became harder to earn once the suffering of the bears became public knowledge.

The sloth bears that have been rescued now live in a refuge that mimics their normal jungle setting. In the wild they grasp branches and pull down fruit or dig up ant hills and termite mounds with their long curved claws. Their snouts work like a vacuum cleaner snuffling up the insects. This would be their staple diet all year round. They generally live in forest caves and have two cubs, after a seven month gestation, which they carry on their backs. They have long black fur and long snouts giving them a distinct appearance.

Termites are an asset in the jungle, food for sloth bears and many other creatures.  Termite mounds provide  high ground for wild animals to get a look around. When a termite mound is abandoned there are small animals that will make use of it for shelter. Arizona termites are not an asset, unfortunately, and so we depend on professionals to rid us of termites in Arizona. The first termite inspection is free, so there’s no reason not to call. That is unless you’re waiting for a sloth bear to come and take the termites away.


Chandler AZ –

Termite Control Arizona


CHANDLER, AZ 85286-7075

(480) 582-1219