A day after what seemed to be a major goof-up by government authorities to rescue a bear that fell into a well in the suburban town of Vellanad in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, which resulted in the bear’s death, a probe has been ordered. State Forest Minister AK Saseendran has asked his department to conduct a proper probe and give a report in two days.
The incident occurred at Vellanad resident Aravind’s house around midnight on Wednesday, April 19. The bear, understood to have come searching for hens, was spotted hanging on to the ring of the well and had managed to stay afloat. A team comprising forest and police department personnel and a veterinarian had reached the place. But things went awry during the rescue operation after a tranquilizer shot was fired by the local veterinarian. Five minutes after the shot was fired, the bear sank to the bottom of the well. Soon, three people climbed down into the well, but they could not lift the animal. The officials then used pumps to lower the water level in the well and by 10.15 am on Thursday fire brigade officials went down and placed the bear in a net and brought it out.
There appeared to be a lack of coordination in the rescue efforts as it was around 6.30 am that the local forest officials arrived at the spot. By 8.55 am, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo veterinarian was asked to give the first tranquiliser shot, but that failed; at 9.20 am, the second shot was fired and the bear, which until then was clinging on to the ring of the well, sunk into the well in 5 minutes.
At 9.35 am, three people went down the well, but in a few minutes they came back up and by 10 am the water was pumped out. At 10.15 am, the fire brigade officials went into the well and were able to place the bear, which was unconscious, into a plastic net and bring it out. Despite the team’s best efforts, the bear had breathed its last.
With the entire rescue act being telecast live by local TV channels, eyebrows were raised on the flawed strategy adopted for the rescue. Before firing the tranquiliser shots, the depth of the water level in the well should have been ascertained, and pumps were put into service much later, which led to the bear drowning in the well.