Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Sloth bear

Nominated by: IUCN Bear Specialist Group

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Why do you love it? This is the rebel bear: instead of a sleek shiny coat of a “normal” bear, the sloth bear has opted for a dishevelled, dull, shaggy look. Sloth bears mooch around in a zig-zag path, bowlegged, eyes fixed to the ground, like sulky teenagers.  Two sloth bears can be feeding near each other, and never look at each other.  Almost as a sign of being rebellious, a sloth bear will frequently have grass or leaves clinging to its coarse coat (it has no underfur).  Also clinging to its long coat, riding on its back are its cubs – it is the only bear that carries them around like this, to keep them safe from tigers.

This bear makes a living eating termites, sucking them up through the space where its two upper front teeth are missing.  It has very large protrusible lips that are used to create suction to extract termites from their colony, and long straight claws to dig into their hard mounds.  Often they can be heard, digging, blowing, huffing, and sucking well before they are seen.  They aren’t cute, but they are certainly a very unique bear and “Baloo” from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is a sloth bear!

What are the threats to the sloth bear? This bear is restricted to India (over 90 percent of its range), Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It can also live in scrubby habitats, and as such, can live close to people.  This is both good and bad:  As the habitat becomes degraded from cutting, grazing, and general overuse, sloth bears can still live there – as long as they can find termites and shade during the heat of the day.  But it is also bad because it brings them very close to people.  This is an aggressive bear (more aggressive than a grizzly bear), so attacks on people are common.  Therefore, most people living around sloth bears don’t like them.  As human populations have grown dramatically in India, habitat has become increasingly degraded, sloth bears and people have been forced to live near each other, attacks have become more frequent, and attitudes towards this species have become worse, leading to bears being killed more and more often.

What are you doing to save it? We have recently learned that this species has disappeared from Bangladesh.  It looks somewhat like an Asiatic black bear, so the continued existence of black bears in Bangladesh masked the disappearance of the sloth bear.  We then looked in Bhutan, where sloth bears also existed historically.  But, despite many reports of sloth bears, we found that they are extremely rare there.  We do not know if they were always rare, or if this is a new occurrence, because again, they are often confused with Asiatic black bears in places where these two species overlap.

Find out more about the work of the Bear SG

Discover more bear species on Arkive



  • Andy Ferris (February 3rd, 2016 at 1:17 am):

    I vote for the sloth bear.

  • Tammy Glise (February 10th, 2016 at 1:26 am):

    Sloth bears have a history of being used as dancing bears. They’ve seen a lot of abuse as a species. I can’t help feeling partial to them because of their difficult past.

  • sujata sinha (February 10th, 2016 at 2:38 am):

    hopefully all the dancing bears are saved– if not then please do the same, they are one of the sweetest of all creatures,

  • Nikki beeler (February 10th, 2016 at 2:47 am):

    I vote for the adorable sloth bear ♡

  • M. Brockmeyer (February 10th, 2016 at 3:15 am):

    No sloth bear, or any type of bear, should ever be used for entertainment or for making money. They deserve much better.

  • E.goodman (February 10th, 2016 at 3:42 am):

    I love these bears. Something so touching about them! They deserve the best, safe life!!

  • Lena Holgersdotter (February 10th, 2016 at 3:51 am):

    Love them!!

  • Dr Swapnil Sonone (February 10th, 2016 at 5:22 am):

    Sloth Bear being on of the least studied bear species among all the Bear family, need to be nominated. In spite of all threats for survival and some handful peoples working for its conservation, one side it is becoming extinct and another side some forest patches have fair presence of Sloth Bear, i wouldn’t comment on population since no significant technical systematic study is done on Sloth bears specially in area we are working in central India, and the reason being forest department is totally oriented towards Tiger protection and conservation and Sloth Bear having less concern as subjected to research and studies, with few exceptions, and financial crunch is always their as funding agencies also fund only research related to Tiger as it comes in focus easily. Lets hope GOOD DAYS will come for Sloth Bear soon, please contribute by nominating.

  • Nisha (February 10th, 2016 at 5:48 am):

    It is the only species of bear present in Gujarat, India and is under great pressure to survive. Conservation is required to protect this species.

  • Nisha (February 10th, 2016 at 5:51 am):

    It’s the only species of bear present in Gujarat, India and is under great pressure for its survival.

  • dr daxen trivedi (February 10th, 2016 at 6:30 am):

    I love sloth bear

  • dr daxen trivedi (February 10th, 2016 at 6:31 am):

    I vote for the sloth bear

  • Rohan Gupta (February 10th, 2016 at 9:13 am):

    There are not much study material available on sloth bear. We need to understand the reason of sloth bear’s extinction around the globe. The research and study will surely help in conservation of this unloved spices! !

  • Dr. A. D. Kholkute (February 10th, 2016 at 9:43 am):

    I am voting for noble cause

    Dr. A. D. Kholkute
    Wildlife Veterinarian, Nagpur, INDIA

  • Dr Vijay Kumar Koli (February 10th, 2016 at 10:29 am):

    Bear are very unloved mammal as of its aappearance and higher conflicts withe hhumans.

  • Shripad deshmukh (February 10th, 2016 at 12:47 pm):

    I vote for sloth bear

  • Vb (February 10th, 2016 at 4:51 pm):

    What’s not to love!

  • Soma Roy Mukherjee (February 10th, 2016 at 5:09 pm):

    Save them

  • Rahul (February 10th, 2016 at 8:09 pm):

    I support the sloth bear !

  • alison (February 10th, 2016 at 11:44 pm):

    These wonderful bears need more protection.

  • Adele Torr (February 10th, 2016 at 11:51 pm):

    I vote for the sloth Bear too as it has such a low profile that I didn’t know it existed.

  • Becky Pleuss (February 11th, 2016 at 12:03 am):

    I have seen pics of this bear in cages..on the side of the road ..in Europe…
    STOP this NOW!

  • Evelyn Attanasio (February 11th, 2016 at 12:16 am):

    Love these bears and we must protect them from people who want to harm or make them dancing bears for life. Protect them and save them!

  • Sandra Faucher (February 11th, 2016 at 1:33 am):

    Please protect the Sloth Bear…they need all the help they can get.

  • Priya hassan (February 11th, 2016 at 4:02 am):

    I feel as a human it is our responsibility to preserve all wild animals and should take care of them

    On top I love bears very much

  • Priya hassan (February 11th, 2016 at 4:29 am):

    It is all our resoonsibility to see all world species will be safe and alive.
    Sloth bears are reducing in number day by day.
    All humans atleast wild animal lovers shoul come farward to save this sloth bear species .

  • Vibha vk (February 11th, 2016 at 4:45 am):

    I’m voting for the sloth bear as like every other animal on this planet,they are cute&have the right to live

  • Ekta (February 11th, 2016 at 10:43 am):

    These sloth bears deserve a chance to get noticed

  • addy Singh (February 11th, 2016 at 11:56 am):

    I vote for Sloth Bears. They are adorable!

  • Judy Fortin (February 11th, 2016 at 1:33 pm):

    They deserve a break after all the horrible things that have happened to them. They are good for the environment, because they eat termites, which destroy the environment.

  • Susan - Port St Lucie, FL (February 17th, 2016 at 5:24 pm):

    Please be good to these bears, and all living things. (Humans too?)