Originally posted on Jasper's Blog 09/08/2010
Arcturos Bear Sanctuary, Mount Nympeon Greece
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. MORE PICTURES AND FULL ARTICLE