The sloth bear is a nocturnal, insect-eating bear native to the Indian subcontinent. Americans may be familiar with this animal from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, by its real-life Hindi name Baloo (bhalu).

We sighted this rare mammal on two separate occasions on a recent trip to Madhya Pradesh, India. One was spotted at Satpura National Park and the second one at Panna National Park. We were able to watch one of the bears for almost two hours, as it foraged for insects by turning over rocks with its specialized shovel-shaped snout. We saw another bear carefully climb a tree, snuffle while snacking on a beehive, and then crash back down – all with the stunning backdrop of wild India.

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