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Dancing Bears India      



Dancing BearsClick here to watch movie of "The Last Dance" with introduction by Jane Goodall, which chronicles the efforts of Wildlife SOS to rescue the Dancing Bears of India.

ALL "DANCING BEARS" finally free!

Bringing an end to this cruel and painful practice has taken a mammoth effort on the part of Wildlife SOS and HSI is very proud to have been part of the solution. We would like to share the letter from the directors of this amazing organisation who wanted wanted to personally thank all who contributed to the final dance.

Dear HSI Supporters

We are very pleased to tell you that just about all of India's ' dancing bears'  have now been removed from the streets, and are beginning a new life free from pain and suffering at our sanctuaries in Agra, Bhopal, Bannerghatta and West Bengal.

This event is of huge historic significance in India and a cause for real celebration. No longer will India be tainted by the shocking spectacle of captive bears being beaten on the roadside or dragged miserably through the traffic and dust by a rope through their noses. It is time for everyone who has supported this project to rejoice at what we have achieved together.

We would particularly like to thank HSI supporters for their five years of constant financial support ' “ because of you we have been able to make the Van Vihar Bear Rescue Centre in Bhopal, in Madhya Pradesh, a great success. Before the final rescue of all the bears, you helped contribute to the rescue of these suffering animals, and on behalf of the bears, we thank you with all our hearts.

Thank you also for your ongoing help in supporting the elephant and leopard rescue projects.

Our very best wishes
Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani
Wildlife SOS India


STOP PRESS:  20 October 2009

HSI has been supporting the work of Wildlife SOS and their sloth (dancing) bear rescue and conservation efforts since 2005. The cruelty suffered by these animals is almost incomprehensible, while also threatening the species long-term survival. Wildlife SOS has been at the forefront of Indian-wide rescue efforts for many years now, and this year saw them rescue their 500th bear from their sad and painful street theatre life. Through the incredible generosity of a US donor, Wildlife SOS now plans to remove ALL performing bears from the streets of Indian by the end of 2009!
HSI supporters must be congratulated for the part they have played in easing the suffering of these beautiful animals.

Latest News

January, 2011 - Five endangered sloth bear cubs and two sub-adult bears were rescued by the Anti-poaching unit of Wildlife SOS and One Voice from the Banka district of Bihar in the wee hours of Friday morning. Three traders have been arrested by the Police in this connection. Click here for the full report.


The sorrow of the bear dancing begins in the forest where the cubs are stolen from their mother at less than 4 weeks old and the mother is killed.

The traumatized cubs barely survive the rough handling they undergo as they are moved in sacks from one trading market to another. Those who survive and reach the Kalandar villages have their canines knocked out, a brutal castration without anaesthetic; a red hot iron needle thrust through their tender muzzles and a coarse rope inserted.

They will now spend the rest of their lives tethered to a short rope, led through hot dusty streets of India, beaten and starved to perform unless we step in and help them.


In India many sloth bears spend sad and painful lives dancing for tourists and rural audiences, with a coarse rope piercing their raw infected muzzles.

Wildlife SOS in India has initiated a unique approach to end this cruel tradition and HSI is committed to help until we have rescued every bear still dancing.

To date over 500 bears have been rescued and have found safety in the spacious bear rescue sanctuary. They arrive in such poor condition, usually half their natural body weight, scared and in poor health and pain.


On arrival each bear goes through quarantine and is vaccinated for a range of diseases including rabies and TB. Their wounds are treated, painful mouths and rotting tooth stumps are cared for by special dentistry work and a nourishing diet with feed additives slowly helps them put on weight and develop glossy coats.

The bears are then released in the socialisation enclosures where they slowly learn to deal with space and make friends with other bears and begin to exercise regularly. Finally they are free to roam in the forest in free ranging enclosures. We see them climbing trees, cooling off in the ponds and wrestling with each other. A well equipped veterinary hospital and three full time resident vets ensure their continued well being.



Bear dancers are very poor and most of them feel that if they could find a kinder way to survive, they would. Wildlife SOS offers them that chance by helping with start up costs and training to set up alternative ways of earning a livelihood. They also make it possible for them to send their children to school by subsidising school fees, and the women receive vocational guidance to help them contribute to the family income ensuring that the family has other options in life besides bear dancing. In this way we hope to make the bear rescue efforts sustainable and break the cycle of dancing bears permanently.


Protecting bear habitat is the only way to guarantee a future for wild sloth bear populations. Wildlife SOS buys parcels of this land so that bears and other species that depend on this habitat will survive. The areas that Wildlife SOS is seeking to protect, contain what are believed to be some of the oldest rocks in the world and are full of natural caves which are shelter for leopards, pangolin, hyenas, mongoose, turtles, otters, crocodiles and a rich array of birds. The purchase of this land creates a wildlife reserves for a whole range of animals. A soft release rehabilitation project for returning rescued bear cubs to the wild is also being planned.

Working on anti-poaching strategies with law enforcement agencies throughout India is also curbing the poaching of bear cubs from the wild.

A sanctuary of hope

The aim is to rescue every last dancing bear from the streets of India and to ensure that it ends forever. As important as the care and rehabilitation of these rescued bears is, it is equally important that we end the cycle. To date not one Kalandar that has been retrained has returned to dancing bears. They are all proud of their new lives and skills and their children are being educated and will not inherit the trade from their parents. Anti-poaching work is showing extraordinary results with the number of poached bears dramatically reducing. And acquisition and protection of habitat gives the bears hope for a future in the wild.

sanctuarybear in rehab


Our supporters and members make this work possible ' “ for the bears, for the people, and for the land. Thank you for caring about the bears who thought they were forgotten.

HSI's Director travelled to the bear sanctuary in Bhopal to see the project first hand. Click here to read an account of her trip.

Read about the last of the Taj Mahal bears.

Read about a day with the bears at Bannerghatta Bear Sanctuary.


Web: AndreasLustig.com