Rescued dancing sloth bear now enjoys the peaceful life at beautiful sanctuary
Sloth bears of India are commonly referred to as dancing bears or dancing sloth bears. A centuries old practice involves capturing the bears as cubs and knocking their teeth out so they are not a threat to their handlers. Hot pokers are used to pierce a hole through the snout to allow a rope to be passed through and tied in a manner that lets the handler to control the bears through pain. Fortunately, this practice was deemed cruel and illegal in the 1970s throughout all of India. But enforcement was lacking and the practice continued for decades.
This sloth bear can be seen enjoying a quiet moment to relax in a dirt hole, free from the worry and anxiety of its former life. It lives at WildlifeSOS in Agra, India along with many others of its kind. The bears exhibit more relaxed behavior here, often playing with other bears in moments of true joy and happiness.
WildlifeSOS is one of several organizations committed to stopping the torture. They have rescued and provided shelter for more than 620 of these beautiful animals. Their facility allows the bears to live a peaceful life in a setting that is as close as possible to what nature intended. The bears have an impressive amount of freedom, proper nutrition, mental stimulation, opportunities for socialization with other bears, and highly skilled veterinary care.
The oldest facility of its kind, it was established in 1995. Incredibly, they do not simply address the issue of caring for the bears. They also took a serious approach to training the Kalandars, the impoverished people who had exploited the bears for their own survival. Through education, retraining, and support, they were able to help these people gain better employment so they would see that their livelihoods were not threatened when the bears were rescued. This was a crucial step in eliminating the problem on a large scale instead of simply rescuing a bear to have it replaced by another. WildlifeSOS sent more than 1600 children to school. The people learned more marketable skills so they did not need to exploit the animals.
The rehabilitation model that has been created here helps both the people and the animals, eliminating the problem and the source of the problem at the same time. Anyone wishing to help support this centre can visit WildlifeSOS.org to make a donation or to volunteer.