13 October 2008

Dancing Bear

Local animal officials here at Tiruvannamalai were recently notified that two sloth dancing bears are currently performing for the public in a village about 20 kms distant. It is expected that local animal officials from Tiruvannamalai with the appropriate organisation will work to rescue the bears and transport them to the nearest bear rescue facility.

As well as an inhumane barbaric custom, bear dancing is also illegal and if you ever see a 'dancing bear' while travelling in India, please get in touch with Wildlife SOS, the India Bear Rescue Organisation at:
email wsos@vsnl.com or phone : 09837042266

To get full information about the rescue facilities that are now home to the bears and where you will be able to visit and spend time with some of these beautiful creatures. Check out Wildlife SOS's link at:

Thus far 491 bears have been rescued from a life of suffering and torture.

undisturbed sloth bear

The Cruelty Behind The Dancing Bear Spectacle

“Qalandars, a nomadic gipsy tribe date themselves and the origin of bear dancing back to the 13th century and the pre- Mughal era. Qalandars gained prominence as the royal entertainers in the courts of the Mughal emperors where they also performed magic tricks and staged wrestling bouts. Once the emperors and kingdoms became history, they started to perform 'Bear dancing' for the general public.

Domestic and international visitors to India would often see these bear dancers on the highway between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Today, about 800 dancing bears are performing on the streets across the country. In India, bear dancing is banned by the Wildlife Protection act 1972. But various socio-economic and political factors have made it a difficult task to implement this law.

Qalandars purchase the sloth bear cubs from tribal poachers/traders and then train them to dance and respond to commands using the crude tools of pain and fear. At the tender age of just six months, a crude iron needle is heated and driven through their muzzle without anesthesia or any other antibiotic, and a rough rope is pulled through the sensitive swollen muzzle. This agony of grossly swollen muzzles and torn tissues together with a fair amount of beating and systematic starvation usually teaches the bears who the master is. The bears live the rest of their lives at the end of a four foot long rope and with no stimulation at all, thus causing several mental and stereotypical symptoms. Male cubs are also castrated at a very young age to keep their owners safe, again crudely by use of a razor, without anesthesia or antibiotics. Canine teeth are removed when one year old, by knocking them out with a metal rod.

For the rest of its life, the bear will dance on the road to earn money for the Qalandar. The wound on the muzzle will never heal and often be infested with maggots. Most of the bears will "bear" the suffering only for a few years since they will die due to Tuberculosis, Leptrospirosis or Rabies. We have noted that a large number of dancing bears are blind due to malnutrition but were still being used by the Qalandars for dancing.”

[Taken from the Wildlife S.O.S Website]


For more information of the Dancing Bear please check out the excellent organisation International Animal Rescue which is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of suffering animals. You can read a full PDF report of the Dancing Bear and watch a video of its sad life at this link here.


Veronica said...

This is so sad. I tried to watch the video on the link you gave but couldn't bear it - as I was crying too much. We must do something to stop this terrible brutality towards a beautiful, innocent creature.

P Shanti said...

Yes, Meenakshi, keep us informed as to what happens in this. Thanks.

Eileen said...

It is really heart wrenching, the plight of these bears. What monsters people can be!

Meenakshi Ammal said...

I've taken a very strong interest in this and definitely hope to post more information on the dancing bears that have been seen locally.

Its truly sickening and disgusting and makes you want to give up on people!