We ended bear dancing in India

We helped to end bear dancing in India–an age old tradition cruelly exploiting bears for entertainment; with cubs poached from the wild and trained to ‘dance’ for tourists on the streets of India.

Exploitation for ‘entertainment’

In the past, sloth bears were illegally targeted by poachers in India and taken as cubs from their mothers. If cubs survived the stress and neglect, they were sold to Kalandars, traditional bear owners, to endure a lifetime of physical and mental suffering as dancing bears. All natural behavior suppressed, canine teeth filed down, a painful hole pierced through their muzzle for a controlling rope: bears were forced to perform for the entertainment of tourists.

Bear dancing: moving towards change

In 2005, across 12 states in India, there were at least 346 bears being exploited in bear dancing. In 2012, the Government of India, with the support of World Animal Protection and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), moved to a National Bear Conservation and Welfare Action Plan, to end the exploitation of bears and keep wild bears in the wild where they belong.

Bear dancing: our work

Working with the WTI, with your support, we have successfully ended the tradition of bear dancing in India, and are working to ensure we never see a resurgence of this cruel practice.

To help protect the bears of India, together we:

  • Strengthened enforcement to protect bears–including providing of anti-poaching training to over 400 government forestry staff and volunteers to protect bears and make sure they remain in the wild where they belong
  • Reduced demand for bear dancing–by working with local people and spectators to raise awareness of the exploitation of bears and promote animal protection
  • Offered alternative livelihoods for bear owners–helping local Kalandars to establish new sustainable livelihoods and leave bear dancing behind for good
  • Provided a better lives for bears–working with the government and local partners to offer lifelong care for rescued dancing bears, while ensuring no bears end up in captivity

In 2012, there was just one case of bear dancing reported in India. Today, bear dancing has been all but eliminated across the country.

With your continued help we can end further exploitation of bears, including bear baiting in Pakistan.

With your support, donation and voice, we have helped to stop bears suffering for entertainment in India.

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