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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Charity to rescue dancing bears
Bear, courtesy of International Animal Rescue
A rope is used to inflict pain and force the animal to 'dance'
Charity workers from East Sussex are to travel to India to rescue up to 50 bears which are made to perform and "dance" for tourists.

International Animal Rescue (IAR) has been given the go-ahead by the Indian government to rescue bears known to perform near the Taj Mahal in Agra.

The team, which leaves on 4 November, will take them to a sanctuary in Agra run by Indian charity Wildlife SOS.

IAR, based in Uckfield, estimates there are about 1,200 dancing bears in India.

When he appears to be dancing, he is really writhing in agony
Alan Knight, IAR

The practice involves separating sloth bears from their mothers as cubs, removing teeth and claws, and inserting a rope through a hole burnt into its nose.

IAR spokesman Alan Knight said: "A dancing bear in India has never been treated with anything other than brute force.

"A rough rope rubs incessantly against an open wound.

"He is brought up on his hind legs by one yank on the rope, so when he appears to be dancing, he is really writhing in agony."

IAR, which says dancing bears were banned by the Indian parliament in 1972, has already rescued more than 60 bears .

It also helps to fund the Agra sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and supports a government retraining scheme to set up the bears' owners in alternative employment.

Bear sanctuary given cash boost
29 Jul 04  |  Southern Counties
Hope for India's dancing bears
21 Jan 03  |  Science/Nature

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