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| Last Updated:: 24/12/2014

Wildlife SOS celebrates the fifth Anniversary of last dancing bear of India

 PUNE: Non governmental organisation Wildlife SOS recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the rescue of India's last dancing bear, Raju, which was rescued on December 18, 2009. Wildlife SOS on Christmas Eve in the year 2002 rescued the first dancing bears off the streets. This event marked the beginning of a campaign that was to end the suffering of more than 600 sloth bears and provide them with a safe haven for the remainder of their lives.


On December 18, 2009, the charity celebrated the historic rescue of Raju, the last dancing bear in India. Representatives from Wildlife SOS were at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre to witness his surrender by his Kalandar handler. The centre is one of the four sanctuaries in India established by Wildlife SOS and supported by International Animal Rescue, UK and FTB Australia. Having spent years in captivity on the end of a short length of rope, the former dancing bears are no longer equipped physically or mentally to survive in the wild. With a team of vets and care-takers at the NGO, the rescued bears have been provided with an environment which is as close as possible to life in the wild.


In addition to caring for the rescued bears, the team comes to the aid of wild bears that are increasingly caught up in conflict situations. Most recently, a female bear was badly injured after being shot in the leg. She and her cub were rescued by the team and rushed to the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre for treatment.


The mother bear has undergone two complex surgical operations to remove bone fragments from her dislocated elbow and to remove pieces of shot from her leg. It is doubtful whether she will ever walk on her damaged leg again. A statement issued by Wildlife SOS said, "The IUCN estimates that fewer than 20,000 sloth bears survive in the wilds of the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. The sloth bear is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides for legal protection of sloth bears. International trade of the sloth bear is prohibited as it is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species."