Luba, the female bear cub, was a month old when Terde Youmcha of Lipu Yomcha village in Arunachal Pradesh bought her for Rs 1000. She could fit in his hands. Terde looked after her for nine months, spending all his school stipend and money given by his parents on Luba.
On Wednesday they parted ways – Luba is headed to the state zoo in Itanagar to spend rest of her life in a cage and Terde goes to college in the same city.
He carried the bear from Yomcha to Aalo in his lap in a Tata Sumo. He was in Aalo for nearly two weeks, waiting to hand her over to the forest department. He left for Itanagar teary as his college wanted him urgently, thus missing the handing over ceremony.
Luba was an entertainer at Aalo; she was a sight for onlookers in her dress. She loved bathing in her aluminium tub and played with children. Many people came to visit her bearing gifts, and she loved the attention.
Before parting with Luba, Terde said, “I have brought up Luba like my own sister. It hurts me to see her go. Please request the zoo authorities to take due care of my Luba and give me access to meet her at the Itanagar zoo.”
Unlike wild bears, Luba has been brought up on a vegetarian diet, preferring dal rice, cabbage, maize, tomato, sugarcane, milk and fruits.
Young Terde is son of priest Siter Yomcha and grandson of late Kasi Yomcha, the most respected priest in his tribal society.
Locals say Terde has a gift with animals and birds. A crow named Yaka and mynah called Moina used to follow him around to school and tuition centres.