I was on a forum when I opened a thread only to see a picture of an obviously miserable bear with a muzzle on his face and a poll beside the picture that asked “Doesn’t this bear look happy?” I think it was supposed to be taken as a joke, but I don’t find it funny at all, and I don’t think anyone else with a heart will either.
These bears are often referred to as “Dancing Bears” — the real name of the species is the Indian Sloth Bear. Sloth Bears are found only in the Indian Sub continent and a sub species (Melursus ursinus inornatus) in Sri Lanka. They are often hunted in India for their gallbladders which hold bear bile, a highly sought after mixture of acids used in traditional Chinese medicine. Thousands of bears are killed each year for this purpose. Once common, they are now quite rare, existing only in fragmented populations.
The slaughtering of the Sloth Bear in India is not the only problem. In fact some people may consider this issue worse. Thousands of the Indian Sloth Bears are being abused and neglected, forced to perform as “Dancing Bears” throughout India. They are usually sought after as cubs. Their mothers are often killed before their eyes and they are swept away to a life of unthinkable torture.
A red-hot iron rod is forced through the nose of an Indian Sloth Bear cub and a rope is passed through it so it can spend the rest of its life performing on the streets of India as a “Dancing Bear”. Poachers train the bears to “dance” and respond to commands using the crude tools of pain and fear. Male bears are crudely castrated by use of a razor, without any anesthesia, this is done to help minimize the threat to their handlers. The bears canine teeth are also often removed, it is done so by knocking them out with a metal rod.
As you can see from the very beginning the bears suffer a great amount of physical pain. After the brutal pain inflicted by man a life of mental agony begins for the bear as he is forced to live his life on the end of a 4 ft rope. For the rest of it’s life the bear will be forced to dance on the road for tourists and locals. Its only purpose is to earn money for its owner. The bear will surely suffer emotionally and they often exhibit visual signs of failing health caused by malnutrition and neglect, many will go blind, some will suffer from diseases ranging from Tuberculosis to Leptrospirosis. It will suffer until the end of its days, unless….
We can come together and vow to protect the Sloth Bear. If we refuse to tolerate such neglect and abuse our voices will be heard and our efforts will prevail. Even though many of us are thousands of miles away from India, we can still help. There are programs that help rescue Sloth Bears that are in captivity. These programs fight to get to the center of the problem. They provide alternative income sources for the people who have come to rely on the Indian Sloth Bear. They rescue bears that have lived a torturous life and provide them with a safe, healthy environment, often rehabilitating them to the point where they can be released back into the wild.
There’s not much time, Wildlifesos.org — an organization dedicated towards rescuing the dancing bears from the Qalandars of India and rehabilitating them estimates that there are only a little over 4000 Sloth Bears in population and that number is rapidly declining. We can help by donating to legitimate organizations and by doing our part to educate the masses on this heart-wrenching reality. Through research and dedication those who care will prevail and there will be a day that the “Dancing Bears” can finally stop dancing.
Amanda. Mason, “Help The “Dancing Bear” To Stop Dancing – Prevent Animal Cruelty In India”, Associated Content.