BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Wales  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 17:12 GMT
Bear expert targets Japan campaign
Victor Watkins and a caged bear
Mr Watkins campaigns to stop cruelty to bears
A wildlife expert from south Wales who set up the first bear sanctuary in India is launching a new drive to stop cruelty to bears in Japan.

Victor Watkins, 49, aims to end the bad conditions that bears are forced to endure in captivity.

In India, Mr Watkins, who is originally from Merthyr Tydfil, set up a shelter for animals which used to be forced to perform on the streets as "dancing bears".

Dancing bear
In some countries, bears are forced to dance

The sanctuary, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, will hold between 40 and 50 animals.

But now Mr Watkins, who has helped stop the tradition of bear dancing in Greece and Turkey, has set his sights on Japan.

Mr Watkins, who is director of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), founded the Libearty campaign to abolish cruelty to the animals.

"In Japan they have bear parks which are like zoos but are so overcrowded," he said.

Mr Watkins explained that he had been working with animal charities since he left school in Merthyr.

"I have always liked wildlife and I have done a lot of work with wild life for different causes," he said.

"I've been part of campaigns with whales and elephants, but I realised there was no big campaign for bears," he added.

Bear baiting

Mr Watkins explained how the mistreatment of bears was taking place across the world.

"In China there are over 9,000 bears being held in cages," he said.

"They have a drain put into their gall bladder to extract the bile every day.

The bear sanctuary in India
The sanctuary in India has taken about three years to set up

"The bears can't move and they have to lie down all the time.

"In Pakistan, they have bear baiting where wild bears are caught to fight with dogs.

"I wanted to help set up the sanctuary in India because bears are used for dancing.

"They use sloth bears, which they have to catch in the wild when they are babies, and the mothers have to be killed.

"For the rest of their lives they are dragged around the streets to perform.

"To control the bears, they drill a hole through their mouth to drag them around.

"The charity wants to change people's opinions about bears particularly the opinion of tourists who pay for the bears to dance," he added.

Philip Lymbery, WSPA's director of communications, said Libearty's work had been extremely worthwhile.

"The groundbreaking sanctuary building programme has resulted in many bears being rescued from lives of misery," he said.


More from south east Wales
See also:

21 Jan 03 | Science/Nature
24 Oct 98 | Europe
14 Jul 98 | Europe
31 Jan 98 | In Depth
31 Jan 98 | Despatches
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wales stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes