Thirteen bears have found a home in the five-acre sanctuary in Greece, including an American black bear from a circus and three refugees from the Belgrade zoo brought in after the Yugoslavia wars. The other bears are the infamous "dancing bears" abandoned or confiscated from gypsies when the practice was banned in 1969.
Treatment of Bears (Warning - This is very sad to read ....)
by Lorraine Murray - March 6th, 2008
The bears are poached from the wild as cubs, an act that often necessitates killing the mother first. Some cubs, traumatized, die of shock. Others succumb to neglect or dehydration. Survivors are sold to trainers, who use sticks and physical threats to teach the orphaned cubs to stand, move on their hind legs, and perform other tricks. The cubs’ teeth are often knocked out or broken for the safety of humans; their nails are clipped short or removed (both of which are painful to bears); and a hot poker or piece of metal is run through the snout or lip to make a permanent hole through which a rope is anchored to control the bear. All of this is done without anesthesia. The trainers make the bears move by pulling on the rope, which causes great pain, and beating the bears if they do not obey. The owners, being poor themselves, cannot feed the bears a nutritionally sound diet even if they want to, and many bears lose their fur or suffer from cataracts and go blind.
The behavior that audiences are encouraged to interpret as “dancing” is the product of aversive training. The Roma training method involved greasing the bears’ paws and having them stand on hot plates while music (often tambourines) played; the bears hopped on the plates to avoid the burning pain, which became associated in their minds with the sound of the music. Traumatized by the experience, they would instinctively "dance" whenever the familiar tune was heard.
Even if saved from this fate, however, they could never survive back in the wild. With their teeth broken to stop them biting their owners they were psychologically scarred by their experience in captivity. READ MORE
BEARS ARE STILL DANCING ...
From Britanica.com by Lorraine Murray: "Like so many other kinds of animal performance, making bears “dance” has a long history stretching back to ancient times. Today the practice takes place mostly in countries of the Indian subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Almost invariably the bears are exploited by very poor people who have few economic options, so initiatives to save the dancing bears must encompass programs to improve the prospects of their human owners."
AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM
Until recently, bears were also used in Europe for this purpose. Bulgaria was the last country in Europe to use dancing bears. As in India, the occupation was a tradition of nomadic tribes, in this case the Roma (Gypsies). The last three dancing bears in Bulgaria were surrendered to a sanctuary in June 2007. However, in spite of the European law against the trade, several incidents were reported in Spain in 2007.
The human's view of animals as property must end. The human view that animals do not have rights must change. Animals do not exist to entertain humans. Animals are living creatures who deserve so much more than what the powers that be around the globe are giving them. It's Jasper's hope that the next time a bear ever dances it will be in joy over the fact that humans have done the right thing and are making laws that truly protect them.
From their website: The aim of International Animal Rescue is to come to the aid of suffering animals around the world. Wherever possible we return rescued animals to their natural environment, but we also provide permanent sanctuary for animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
Both bear photos are from International Animal Rescue. Please learn about their organization. They have more information on rescuing Dancing Bears and trafficked animals. I'm so glad there are good, caring people out there working on behalf of abused animals.
WHY TELL YOU ABOUT DANCING BEARS?
Jasper brings this story of dancing bears to his blog as an example of a long history of animal abuse that became an accepted way of thinking among many humans. Things are slowly changing, but much work has yet to be done.
Jasper is corresponding with a politician in Colorado through his human liaison, Betsy Seeton, and learning that animals are considered property and that's why proposed anti-puppy mill legislation was killed in committee in Colorado two years ago. The agricultural community and the unscrupulous dog breeders -- certainly not all -- don't want laws that restrict their ability to make money. I know there are good dog breeders out there doing the right thing. Kudos to all of you! But to the humans who aren't, something has to stop you from hurting animals. Treating animals with the kind of care and compassion they deserve as living creatures versus property would cut into your profits.
The Colorado State Representative, Beth McCann, explained in an email and over the phone that there is huge opposition in Colorado to new anti-puppy mill laws. If better laws aren't the answer, I'm open for suggestions.
Dogs are currently allowed to be entirely raised in cages so long as they have proper food/water and a very short recess from the cage during the day. How is this okay? What will it take to change this? If not laws, what??
Jasper's point is that attitudes about animals around the world need to change. While dancing bears have largely been outlawed, it still goes on in some cultures. And, of course, there are circuses. Documented evidence shows abuse of circus animals goes on every day. Things must change!
FROM ATAC FOR TEENAGERS WANTING TO HELP:
P.O Box 708