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Natural World

  • Season 30
  • 14 episodes
  • Nature

Episode 13: Natural World: The Real Jungle Book Bear


The life of a young male sloth bear as he grows up in the harsh landscape of the Indian state of Karnataka. Like his fictional counterpart in the famous novel and movie adaptations, it eats ants and other insects - but unlike the Disney character, life is much tougher as he fends off foes and searches for food. The film also meets the bear's mother who lives nearby with two new cubs on her back, trying to keep them safe from prowling leopards.


Say hello to the Indian sloth bear, real-life inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Baloo. They’re sweet, scruffy creatures, with shaggy black fur that sticks out in odd directions, as if they’d been styled by Robert Smith of the Cure. Watching the first film ever made about them, you may not be reminded much of Disney’s version of Baloo, although these guys certainly exist on the bare necessities, snuffling around for ants and termites that they hoover up through their snouts, or pillaging the odd bit of fruit.

As the unhurried film follows several bears mooching around a beautiful area of Karnataka, we also see other fabulous creatures – tigers and leopards, yes, but also skipper frogs that walk on water and the best shot of a peacock shimmying his tail feathers you’ll ever see.
What may stick in the mind, though, are the sweet, mischievous bear cubs. One very funny scene where a cub confronts his first mongoose is all too brief.

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NarratorDavid Attenborough


ProducerOliver Goetzl
ProducerIvo Norenberg
Series editorSteve Greenwood

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