It is likely that the rescued sloth bears had been beaten and trained into submission for more than a decade where they would’ve survived on just rice and milk.
The bears were poached from the wild as cubs and sold on the black market to be used in this cruel practice. Their mothers often get killed for the medicinal bile found in their gall bladders, or for their paws which are served as soup or as traditional medicine.
At around eight months old they would have all their teeth and often their claws removed and the skin and cartilage pierced on their muzzles with a hot iron rod. A chain or rope is then put through, where it will stay until they die.
The practice of training bears to dance for paying audiences was popular in the Middle Ages throughout Europe and Asia. It remained common in Eastern Europe and Asia until the late 20th century, according to World Animal Protection.
Animal welfare groups had been following these bears and their owners for over a year, waiting for the right time to mount a rescue. The police were then able to step in and apprehend the four people responsible. The bears are now awaiting transfer to a sanctuary, likely one in India.
Due to united efforts by animal welfare groups to rescue the bears and help their owners transition to new livelihoods, the practice has been coming to an end.
Countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, India, Serbia, Turkey and now Nepal are believed to no longer have dancing bears. However there are still bears in captivity, forced to perform in Pakistan.
This marks the end of this ‘tradition’ and years and years of torture for these beautiful creatures in Nepal.
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