On Sunday, a couple in India were walking through a wooded area on their way home when they saw a sloth bear nearby. Mukesh Rai and his wife, Gudiya, made the mistake of confronting the animal instead of backing away. Their decision would cost them their lives in a horrific attack first reported by the Times of India.
Details have emerged about Mukesh and Gudiya’s death, and they’re not for the faint of heart. The couple, ages 43 and 39 respectively, encountered the sloth bear around 6:30 a.m. local time after visiting the Khermai temple early on Sunday. The couple stuck together as they confronted the furry creature along their path home.
The bear reportedly lashed out and savagely attacked the pair, ripping their bodies apart before eating the couple’s carcasses. Times of India shared that the sloth bear dragged Mukesh and Gudiya’s bodies to a nearby river. While there, it continued to feed on their carcasses for the next four hours. Local authorities arrived five hours after the incident as a crowd gathered following news that spread of the horrific attack.
It took officials another two hours to tranquilize and capture the bear. The outlet also reported that the sloth bear is being transported to a zoo in a different city. Further, the government has given financial assistance of 400,000 Indian rupee ($5,122) to the couple’s children.
“The animal will not be released in the forest,” Divisional Forest Officer Gaurav Sharma told DNA India. “And we plan to send it to some zoo in another city.”
Sloth Bears Are Responsible for More Fatalities Than Polar Bears or Grizzlies
While sloth bears don’t look like much of a threat, the furry beasts are deceptive. They grow upwards of 6-feet tall, can weigh in at over 300-pounds, and have extremely sharp claws. When they are startled or fear for their safety, the bears are known to act aggressively towards humans.
In fact, sloth bears are responsible for more human fatalities than polar bears or grizzly bears, which are much larger. The South Asian bears are known to attack victims’ faces, and that often leaves them mutilated and disfigured. That is, if the victims survive.
In 2015, a study on sloth bears in central India discovered that victims mostly suffered injuries to their face and scalps. The review from seven years ago states that the animals were involved in 48 attacks that officials analyzed.
Sloth bears have very little in common with actual sloths, and are not related to the slow, tree-loving animals. Their name is misleading since the bears are agile and can run faster than a human. The shaggy animals appear to be fearless at times, and witnesses have caught them successfully fighting off tigers in India. Despite their name, people should respect and avoid sloth bears at all costs.