Bears rescued in Mumbai find home in Agra

April 7th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by admin  

Agra, April 7 (IANS) Two performing bears rescued by animal rights activists and police in Mumbai have been brought to Agra’s bear shelter where they will stay and be taken care of. The Wild Life SOS runs a special sanctuary for bears in the city, located along the river Yamuna. There are more than 250 bears at the centre being looked after by a trained staff of 40.

“The adult bears were taken into custody by the Maharashtra Forest Department a month ago. Their ropes were cut by a member of our organisation before they were brought to our sanctuary here,” Vasudha Mehta of the Wild Life SOS told IANS.

According to wildlife activists, dancing bears are cruelly treated. When they are just a year old, the cubs have ropes pushed through their nostrils without the aid of any painkillers. A group of people hold the cub down while a red hot needle is forced through the squealing animal’s nose. A rope is then pushed through the nostril hole, which usually becomes infected. The wounds never heal and often become infested with maggots.

When the ropes tied to the traumatised bears are tugged, the animals lift their legs and “dance”. Male cubs are castrated with a razor at a very young age, also without anaesthesia or antibiotics. The animals’ canine teeth are knocked out with a metal rod when they are a year old. Bears are trained through a regime of pain and starvation, and they rarely survive more than eight years - a third of their natural life expectancy.

Under the 1972 Indian Wildlife Protection Act, it is illegal to capture and trade bears in India. However, this law is blatantly ignored and performing bears can often be seen on the streets of Indian cities. ‘Madaris’, or their trainers, make the bears dance for up to 12 hours a day.

Actor Yana Gupta and top model Sheetal Malhar have helped PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to bring about awareness among the people on ‘dancing bears’.

“There is nothing more cruel than watching an animal being forced to perform asinine acts, all for the sake of ‘entertainment’,” says Anuradha Sawhney, chief functionary of PETA India. “If all those who patronise performing acts by animals get to know of the cruelty that lies behind the acts, I guarantee they will not think it entertaining.”

In August 2003, PETA India helped rescue six bears from the streets of Mumbai and brought them to the Agra rescue centre.

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