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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Celebrating 30 years of IAR - Dancing Bear Project

As we celebrate our 30 year anniversary, we are reflecting on some of our biggest achievements, one of these, of course, is the success of our dancing bear rescue project.

We are incredibly proud to say that, with our partners at Wildlife SOS and Free the Bears, we successfully put an end to the cruel tradition of dancing bears on the streets of India.

10 years ago, if you were to walk down the streets of India, you would be likely to witness unimaginable animal abuse, being sold to tourists as 'entertainment'. Sloth bears were used as 'dancing bears' and could be seen writhing in pain on the side of the road, being forced to dance for the enjoyment of tourists; many of them not aware of the barbaric treatment the poor animals were having to endure.

After being poached from the wild, their captors would shove a red hot poker through their muzzle, causing incredible pain and often leading to agonising infection. A rope would then be threaded through the raw wound, and every time it was pulled, the sloth bear would stand on its hind legs and shake around in pain, giving the illusion of a 'dance'.

The bear in these photos is named Raju. He was India's very last dancing bear, after our partnership lead to more than 600 bears being rescued and given a permanent home at one of the sanctuaries throughout India.

His incredible transformation is just one of many. Because of YOU, we were able to transform the lives of many ex-dancing bears, who now, almost 10 years on, reside in beautiful, spacious sanctuaries that were made possible by our generous supporters.

Thank you to everyone that helped Raju, and so many other bears like him, on his road to recovery. Although they can never be released, they are able to see out the rest of their lives in tranquillity, enjoying treats such as honey and an abundance of fresh fruit.

Just look at how happy he looks now!