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The Jungle Book character
The second jungle book (1895) (Baloo).jpg
Baloo in the 1895 edition of The Second Jungle Book
First appearance "Mowgli's Brothers"
Last appearance The spring Running
Created by Rudyard Kipling
Species Indian sloth bear
Gender Male

Baloo (Hindi: भालू Bhālū, "bear") is a main fictional character featured in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book from 1894 and The Second Jungle Book from 1895. Baloo, a bear, is the strict teacher of the cubs of the Seeonee wolf pack. His most challenging pupil is the "man-cub" Mowgli. Baloo and Bagheera, a panther, save Mowgli from Shere Khan the tiger and endeavor to teach Mowgli the Law of the Jungle in many of The Jungle Book stories.

Name and species[edit]

He is described in Kipling's work as "the sleepy brown bear". Robert Armitage Sterndale, from whom Kipling derived most of his knowledge of Indian fauna, used the Hindi word "Bhalu" for several bear species, though Daniel Karlin, who edited the Penguin reissue of The Jungle Book in 1989, states that, with the exception of colour, Kipling's descriptions of Baloo are consistent with the sloth bear, as brown bears and Asian black bears do not occur in the Seoni area where the novel takes place. Also, the name sloth can be used in the context of sleepiness. Karlin states, however, that Baloo's diet of "only roots and nuts and honey" is a trait more common to the Asian black bear than to the sloth bear.[1] Nevertheless, this may be single observation only; according to the dietary habits of sloth bears, while sloth bears prefer termites and ants (which is also described as Baloo's special treat in The Jungle Book), their main sources of food are honey and fruits most of the year.

In the 2016 adaptation, Baloo is stated to be a sloth bear by Bagheera, though his appearance is similar to that of a Himalayan brown bear. Though this subspecies of the brown bear is absent from historical records on Seoni, it might have ranged across most of northern India.[2]

In film, television, and theatre[edit]

Baloo the bear.jpg
Baloo as he appears in the Walt Disney's The Jungle Book (1967).
First appearance The Jungle Book (1967)
Last appearance The Jungle Book (2016)
Created by Rudyard Kipling
Walt Disney
Voiced by

Disney animated films[edit]

Baloo, based on Kipling's creation, has appeared in various Disney productions, starting with the company's 1967 feature-length animated film The Jungle Book. In this version, Baloo (voiced by Phil Harris) is portrayed as a friendly and even-tempered character who lives a responsibility-free lifestyle, seemingly far removed from the law teacher in Kipling's book. Baloo is one of Mowgli's mentors and friends. Baloo is also patient and strong; apparently, his only weakness is that he's ticklish. Baloo is initially opposed to bringing Mowgli to the Man Village, wanting to raise him as a son. However, when Bagheera explains that Mowgli is easy prey for Shere Khan the tiger and that he's not safe in the jungle, even with Baloo's diligent protection, Baloo realizes that he's right, and reluctantly tries to tell Mowgli the difficult truth. Mowgli turns on Baloo and runs away, prompting him and Bagheera to split up and search for the boy. Baloo isn't seen again until the climax of the film, when he sees Mowgli preparing to battle Shere Khan. Baloo attempts to stop the tiger, but almost gets killed in the process. After Mowgli follows a girl named Shanti into the village and decides to stay there, Baloo is slightly disappointed, but ultimately is relieved that Mowgli is safe at last. He and Bagheera then return to the jungle as they sing a reprise of "The Bare Necessities" together.

Baloo returns in the 2003 animated sequel The Jungle Book 2 in which he is voiced by John Goodman. He is eager to reunite with Mowgli, in spite of Bagheera's exasperation and the return of a vindictive Shere Khan, humiliated by his previous defeat at Mowgli's hands. He sneaks into the Man Village at night after eluding Bagheera and Colonel Hathi's herd to visit Mowgli and takes him off into the jungle after being caught by Shanti, who felt bad for getting Mowgli in trouble, and unknowingly saves him from Shere Khan, who also came to the village. This leads Shanti, Ranjan, and the villagers to go into the jungle to search for him. Mowgli tells Baloo all about the negative aspects of the village while hiding his actual feelings about the place. When Baloo makes fun of Mowgli's life in the village and scares Shanti like Mowgli asked him to, he unintentionally hurts Mowgli's feelings and annoys him. Baloo and Shanti continue to hate each other until they both say they're trying to save Mowgli from Shere Khan (who ambushed Mowgli when he went after Shanti and Ranjan to apologize) during an argument. From then on, they acknowledge one another as friends. After he, Mowgli, and Shanti trap Shere Khan under a statue on a rocky outcrop in a lava lake, Baloo understands that Mowgli's place is in the village and sadly says good-bye to him. However, the next day, it is revealed that, with Shere Khan gone, the jungle is now "certified as safe", and Mowgli, Shanti, and Ranjan therefore have the village leader's permission to go into the jungle. The movie ends with Baloo, Shanti, and Mowgli singing a reprise of "The Bare Necessities" while Ranjan plays with Bagheera.

Baloo became a popular character after the success of the Disney films. He was made famous by the song "The Bare Necessities", sung by Phil Harris, in which he tells Mowgli how to live off the land and still have a life of luxury.

Japanese anime[edit]

In the 1989 Japanese anime television series Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli also based on The Jungle Book, Baloo, (voiced by Banjō Ginga in Japanese and A.J. Henderson in the English dub) is more faithfully depicted as a strict teacher of Mowgli, not above getting physical in his displeasure when the boy is being difficult.


In the 1990 Disney animated TV series TaleSpin, Baloo (voiced by Ed Gilbert) is the main character of the series and is based primarily on the character from Disney's The Jungle Book, but he wears a flight cap and a yellow shirt. He also has four-fingered hands instead of his Jungle Book counterpart's claws. He has an easy-going and cheeky personality just like the Jungle Book version. Although juvenile, scruffy, directionless, and a slacker, he is also an excellent pilot and capable of dangerous aerial maneuvers. He flies a cargo plane called the Sea Duck. He will also bravely come to the aid of people in need of help. Some of his mannerisms survive from The Jungle Book, including his nickname of "Papa Bear" given by his young friend Kit Cloudkicker, which Mowgli had given to him in The Jungle Book. He also calls Kit "Little Britches", as he did with Mowgli.

1994 live-action film[edit]

In the 1994 Disney live-action film The Jungle Book, Baloo, like all the other animals featured, does not speak. He first meets Mowgli as a cub when Mowgli finds him trapped inside a broken log. Mowgli frees him and they become fast friends. In a later scene, while Mowgli is escorting his childhood sweetheart Katherine "Kitty" Brydon through the jungle, Baloo appears and playfully wrestles with Mowgli, in the process temporarily scaring Kitty until Mowgli introduces his jungle friends to her. In a later tussle against soldiers working for Captain William Boone, the main villain, Baloo is shot and left for dead, but Mowgli finds him and locates Dr. Julius Plumford to save his life. In the final scene, after Boone's defeat, Dr. Plumford is shown to have successfully saved Baloo, and is seen standing with Baloo beside a waterfall.

Jungle Cubs[edit]

In the 1996 Disney animated TV series Jungle Cubs, Baloo (voiced by Pamela Adlon) is a kind-hearted and genial cub. He likes to play with his friends (including his best friend Louie) and sometimes plays tricks on Bagheera in order to snap the latter out of his haughty attitude.

1998 live-action series[edit]

In the live-action TV series Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book based on the original Jungle Book stories, Baloo is once again given a more sensible personality faithful to that of the books.

2010 animated series[edit]

In the Indian computer animated TV series The Jungle Book, Baloo (voiced by Jimmy Hibbert) is once again given a more conservative personality faithful to that of the books. He is also depicted in this series as wearing glasses and as bipedal.

Stage adaptation[edit]

Disney's 2013 stage adaptation of The Jungle Book, directed by Mary Zimmerman, features Kevin Carolan as Baloo.

2016 live-action film[edit]

In the 2016 Disney live-action film The Jungle Book, Baloo is voiced by Bill Murray.

Baloo first appears when Kaa is about to devour Mowgli, and rescues him from the python before she can eat him. Baloo then takes Mowgli back to his cave and tells him to help him gather honey in exchange for saving his life. Eventually, Baloo and Mowgli form a strong attachment with Mowgli deciding that he wants to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives. When Bagheera shows up, Mowgli reveals that he wants to live with Baloo. Baloo then speaks with Bagheera, and Baloo reluctantly agrees to send Mowgli away to the Man-village so he is safe from Shere Khan. To this end, he says he and Mowgli were never friends, hoping his lie will coerce Mowgli into going to the Man-village. However, before Mowgli can decide, monkeys under the command of the Gigantopithecus, King Louie, abduct him. Baloo and Bagheera track down the monkeys back to their temple, and fight them off long enough for Mowgli to hide from Louie. The ensuing chase results in Louie's apparent death. When Mowgli learns of Akela's death by Shere Khan from Louie, he angrily decides to face Shere Khan, and steals a torch from the man-village, accidentally starting a fire in the jungle. Baloo and Bagheera follow him in close pursuit and help to distract Shere Khan alongside Raksha and the rest of Mowgli's wolf pack so that Mowgli can set a trap that later kills Shere Khan. After Shere Khan is defeated and the fire extinguished, Mowgli is last seen sometime later with Baloo and Bagheera, having at last found his true home in the jungle.

2018 live-action film[edit]

In the 2018 Warner Bros. live-action film Jungle Book, Baloo will be played by Andy Serkis, who is also serving as the film's director.


  1. ^ Kipling, Rudyard (2011). The Jungle Book. New Mexico, USA: CSF Publishing. ISBN 9781937487225. 
  2. ^ Boitani, L.; Cowling, R.M.; Dublin, H.T. (2008). "Change the IUCN Protected Area Categories to Reflect Biodiversity Outcomes.". PLoS Biology 6 (3): 436–438. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060066.