India's Last Dancing Bear Freed

December 18, 2009 BBC World News

The bear and its owner, an impoverished Kalandar nomad, were discovered in southern India, and persuaded to travel to a sanctuary where the bear will be treated for facial and dental injuries and the owner retrained as a wildlife park keeper.

His agreement to abandon bear dancing marked the end of a five year campaign in which more than 600 bears were rescued throughout India.

International Animal Rescue's British chief executive Alan Knight last night said he and his colleagues were overjoyed to have played a part in ending the "cruel practice".

He said it had been possible by the generous response of Daily Telegraph readers who had donated thousands of pounds to the project after reading about the project.

It told the story of a British dentist travelling to India to perform root canal treatment on rescued dancing bears whose teeth had been smashed with iron bars. The Indian sloth bears had also had several holes seared into their noses to allow their keepers to tether them with rough ropes.

The animals were in great pain, suffering from skin and mouth infections and psychologically damaged after years of being burned and beaten as part of their 'training' to perform dance routines. Even after they are rescued, some continue to make 'weaving' movements if they hear whistling sounds. Most of the bears had been trained to perform specific dances to individual tunes, like pretending to strum a guitar. Read more at Telegraph UK

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