Tuesday, July 14, 1998 Published at 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Last dance for Turkey's bears
By Duncan Kennedy:
Then as adults they would be made to perform for tourists a grotesque spectacle that many thought could never be stopped. But it has.
The Wildlife Rescue Centre, Bursa,Turkey is a sanctuary full of contented animals in a country now officially empty of dancing bears, a true success story for animal welfare.
He was nearly caught up in the cruel and humiliating game but today he is safe.
Bear dancing was always illegal in Turkey but what it needed was education to change attitudes.
Today living is easy for the retired dancing bears thanks to a massive new compound in southwestern Turkey courtesy of WSPA.
Although some bears have sore heads and others the odd irritation to take care of, most have adapted to their humane lifestyles.
The Turkish authorities say they are proud to have rid this aspiring European state of an ancient custom.
What is certain is that they won't end up as dancing bears. The traditions of hundreds of years reversed in just five.
Bear dancing still goes on in India and parts of the Balkans but Turkey can now be held up as a model for other animal welfare campaigns.
So if you go down to the woods of this country today life by comparison really is a picnic.