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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Bear sanctuary given cash boost
Picture of dancing bear supplied by International Animal Rescue
The rope is used to inflict pain and force the bear to 'dance'
A charity working to rescue India's dancing bears, where animals are beaten and made to perform, has agreed to fund a sanctuary for the next 30 years.

International Animal Rescue (IAR), based in Uckfield, East Sussex, will give 50,000 each year to Wildlife SOS - an animal charity in Delhi.

The two charities already run a project in Agra which now looks after 55 bears.

Figures from IAR estimate that there could still be about 1,200 dancing bears on the streets of India.

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

Picture of bear in sanctuary supplied by International Animal Rescue
Over 50 animals are now housed in a bear sanctuary at Agra

The rope is then used by the bear's keeper to inflict pain and force the animal to "dance".

Funds are used to care for the bears and to equip handlers with training and new skills - the tourist attraction provides the main income for many Indian families.

Some keepers have been retrained as park wardens.

IAR Chief executive Alan Knight said: "There are between 800 and 1,200 bears on the streets of India.

"Currently we have rescued 75, but some of them have been in such a bad state that they have died.

"We have got about 55 in the sanctuary now - so we are looking at possibly another 1,000 coming in."

The charity said dancing bears were banned by the Indian parliament in 1972.

Hope for India's dancing bears
21 Jan 03  |  Science/Nature

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