What Kind Of Bear Is Baloo? Disney's 'The Jungle Book' Unraveled

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 13, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Oct 26, 2021
Wild Sloth bear in nature habitat

'The Jungle Book' by Walt Disney Productions is a musical movie adaptation made in 1967 and a live-action adaptation in 1994 from the stories of the book with the same name, 'The Jungle Book' by author Rudyard Kipling.

'The Jungle Book' was first published in 1893-94, by the renowned British author as a collection of short stories in several magazines over the course of a few years and the stories gained great popularity. The movie 'The Jungle Book' has been adapted into movie versions several times by Walt Disney Productions.

The first film was an animated version released in 1967 in which Phil Harris voiced the character of Baloo. A live-action version was released in 1994. In 2016, another adaptation was released featuring live-action CGI effects in which Bill Murray gave his voice for the character of Baloo.

The story of Walt Disney’s 'The Jungle Book' is set in the jungle of Madhya Pradesh, India, and revolves around an abandoned boy, Mowgli, who as a baby is found by a black panther named Bagheera. He is adopted by a kind-hearted wolf named Raksha at Bagheera’s request, who raises Mowgli as her own child.

There, Mowgli grows under the protection of all the wild animals as the years pass, leading a happy and fun life. Later, the antagonist of the story, a tiger named Shere Khan is introduced.

The tiger is out to kill Mowgli.

Bagheera and the wolf pack decide to lead Mowgli out of the forest and into human civilization for his own good. As the story progresses, we get to meet many new characters like Baloo the bear, Kaa the python and King Louie the orangutan.

After reading about this beloved bear from the much-loved Disney film (based on the book by Kipling), do check out these sun bear facts and find out what kind of cat is Garfield?

What kind of bear species is Baloo from 'The Jungle Book'?

Many Disney fans know the character Baloo but they often wonder what bear species does he belong to? Read on to find out all about the famous Disney character, Baloo and his mysterious bear species.

We all know Baloo’s the sleepy brown bear, who gave us the song every kid knew in their childhood, the cheerful, upbeat song called ‘The Bare Necessities’. In the film, he loves to sing and frolic around without any worries and loves a good scratch against a tree from time to time.

But we all have wondered what kind of bear is Baloo?

Most of the names of characters from 'The Jungle Book' are derived from the Hindi language.

Likewise, the name Baloo is derived from the Hindi word ‘Bhaaloo’, which can be translated in English to mean a bear, Shere Khan to 'a tiger', and Bagheera to 'a panther'. Baloo meets Mowgli for the first time when Baloo, the bear saves Mowgli from a python named Kaa who tries to kill Mowgli and becomes his friend.

Unfortunately, the species to which Baloo the bear belongs changes through every movie of Jungle Book. There is no specific mention of Baloo’s species in the book where he is simply described as a bear.

An illustration of Baloo in the early versions of the book does not serve to help us understand what species he might belong to either. In the 1967 movie version, Baloo is depicted as a sloth bear, who is a native species to the Indian subcontinent.

In the 1994 live adaptation version, Baloo the bear is played by an Asian black bear named Casey.

Baloo the bear is depicted as a sloth bear again in the 2016 real-life CGI version of the movie. The sloth bear is the most commonly found species of bear in India, living in the forest regions of the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh and Punjab.

What lesson do Baloo and Bagheera endeavor to teach Mowgli in 'The Jungle Book'?

For everyone who has seen the film and some people who are yet to watch, we all know that the characters Baloo and Bagheera play a crucial role in bringing up their human companion, Mowgli.

They are the ones who put their lives on the line to protect him from the evil tiger, Shere Khan and send him back to human civilization safely. Throughout the movie, we see them bringing Mowgli up as if they were his parents, or older siblings and teaching him a lot of important lessons like kindness and hope.

Even the popular song ‘The Bare Necessities’ talks about finding happiness in the small things in life.

Another thing they teach Mowgli through the film is known as ‘the law of the jungle’. As Mowgli was adopted by a pack of wolves to be raised like cubs, there are certain rules which are supposed to be followed by all the wolf cubs in the pack, so as to maintain the hierarchy within the forest.

The law of the jungle was also the name of a poem in the original works by Rudyard Kipling with the same title. One of the famous lines from the poem goes;

'For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.'

This is repeated several times throughout the movie. The law lays down the rules for keeping up the peace and brotherhood in the forest and within the wild animals and wolf packs. It reminds the wolves that they’re hunters, and they work in packs and for the packs.

Whatever they gather must be shared equally among the pack. They must always respect the elephants and members of other animal packs. It states that the cubs should be protected against external harm, and leaders and elders should be respected.

(Sloth bears can be easily found in the Indian jungles.)

Was Baloo Mowgli’s mentor?

In the film versions, the introduction of Baloo into Mowgli’s life occurs differently each time. The entire Jungle Book story offers a great insight to nature from Kipling and later Disney's perspective, but most of the time, we meet Baloo, the carefree, black bear when Mowgli needs to be rescued from challenging situations.

In the latest animated real-life CGI adaptation, we meet Baloo when he rescues Mowgli from the clutches of Kaa, the python, who hypnotizes Mowgli in an attempt to devour him.

Baloo helps unconscious Mowgli and asks him for help with getting some honey from a place where Baloo cannot reach himself.

In the process, Mowgli gets kidnapped by an army of monkeys, led by King Louie the gigantopithecus, who wants to learn and weaponize making fire, so as to gain ultimate power over the jungle.

He expects Mowgli to have knowledge about it, but as Mowgli’s raised by a wolf pack, he’s none the wiser, which angers the ape and he commands his monkeys to attack Mowgli.

Meanwhile, Baloo and Bagheera join forces to rescue Mowgli from the giant vicious King Louie.

As the story progresses, we see that Baloo and Bagheera teach Mowgli a lot of things about love and life, kindness, respect, hope, and happiness.

They put themselves in danger so as to save him from the savage tiger, Shere Khan, who wants to avenge humankind because he was burned in a fire made by humans. That’s why he swears to kill the human kid who lives in the jungle and is a part of the animal’s life.

Until the end, Baloo and Bagheera look out for Mowgli’s safety even though Mowgli decides to leave the ‘man village’ and return to the forest which he feels more familiar with.

There are many scenes in the film where Mowgli feels behind his fellow cubs because he cannot keep up with them. We see Bagheera consoling him and telling him that everyone has their own pace and we need to work hard to achieve our dreams.

Baloo, the brown bear teaches him that finding happiness in the little things in life is a better way to live happily. So yes, both Baloo and Bagheera were not just great mentors, but also great friends to Mowgli.

What color is Baloo?

Wondering what color is Baloo? Read ahead to know more about this world-famous bear.

As Baloo is depicted as a bear in the movies and the book, his color is dark brown in all of them. In most adaptations, Baloo appears to be an American black bear who is of dark brown color or maybe a grizzly bear.

Though, in reality, Baloo is a sloth bear and not a grizzly who lives in the jungles of Seonee. Most sloth bears live in the jungle only.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what kind of bear is Baloo?

Disney's 'The Jungle Book' unraveled then why not take a look at how well do you know your food: where does food come from?, or where does pizza come from? Cheesy food history of pizza revealed!

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

Read full bio >