Caught from the wild as tiny cubs, the poachers burn holes through the bears’ noses with red-hot pokers, thread a rope through and train them to ‘dance’, lifting their feet to avoid the excruciating pain of the hot plate they are forced to stand on. Their teeth and claws are removed and the bears are severely beaten throughout their lives. Sloth bears are still used as ‘dancing bears’ in some countries, such as Pakistan and Nepal.
Born Free has provided support to the work of International Animal Rescue (IAR), who rescue dancing bears and provide them with a safe haven and lifetime care. Born Free helped to build a vet clinic at their bear sanctuary in Bannerghatta, India, which provides specialised treatment for rescued sloth bears.