'Dancing' Bear Hugs The Man Who Saved His Life

<p><a href="http://wildlifesos.org/" target="_blank">Wildlife SOS India</a></p>

They tied up an 8-week-old bear, pierced his nose with a needle, smashed his tiny teeth - and expected him to dance.

The people who captured Elvis - and likely killed his mother - planned to sell him to a circus. But they hadn't planned on a rescue team from Wildlife SOS descending on their camp in India, near the Nepalese border.

The poachers fled, leaving a terrified Elvis bound to a tree.

Wildlife SOS India

That was in early 2015. Since then, Elvis has been living at the organization's Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF), where the only dancing he does is from unfettered joy.

Often, it's a duet with one of his favorite toys, a giant ball attached to a pole and filled with dates and nuts.

Wildlife SOS India

For a bear who knew such pain and despair at human hands, it's a remarkable turnaround.

"He is happy to be around people and can be seen running with joy, every time the keepers or vets pay him a visit," Wildlife SOS said in a statement sent to The Dodo.

The feeling is profoundly mutual. Elvis has developed a powerful bond with his keeper.

Wildlife SOS India

He's also a favorite with staff and volunteers at the rescue facility, despite an understandably shy and timid start there.

Wildlife SOS India

"On approaching his enclosure, one is always greeted with his inquisitive little nose as he tries to sniff around and familiarize himself with his visitors," the group explains in the statement.

That doesn't take this trusting bear long.

"He loves chasing people around, grabbing onto their legs and trying to trip them - which is quite an amusing sight when the keepers come in carrying his bowl full of porridge."

Wildlife SOS India

Happy birthday, Elvis. And remember, this is only your first one.

Just imagine all the balls and climbing platforms and nuts and other bears and, yes, humans you'll know over the birthdays to come.

Wildlife SOS India

Welcome to big life, baby bear.

Not every bear is so fortunate to find a lifeline. Many are killed for the sum of their parts - their pelts and organs. Or forced into brutal and illegal bile farms.

Their babies are often sold into the exotic pet trade, where few find a happy ending.

Want to support Wildlife SOS and its mission to save animals like Elvis? Consider making a donation here.