Goodbye, India’s ‘dancing bears’
POORLY-TREATED, NO MORE. The tradition of bears being trained to dance in the streets of India have been stopped. Photo from AFP
Conservationists claimed they were successful in ending the Indian industry of street-dancing sloth bears, a tradition of the Muslim Kalandar tribe that dates back to the 13th century. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and India-based Wildlife SOS, which runs sanctuaries for bears, have also declared an end to the practice in the last few months–40 years after a government ban in 1972. Behind this is a long-term effort of providing alternative livelihood and other financial incentives to the tribesmen who were used to buying bear cubs from poachers, then hammering a heated iron rod through the cubs’ sensitive snouts to remove the animal’s teeth and claws. The bear trainer threaded a rope through its snout and then headed for the streets where onlookers would pay a few rupees for a show in which the bear would sway and jump around.

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