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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR and WSOS announce third bear sanctuary

International Animal Rescue and Indian partners Wildlife SOS (WSOS) today announced the creation of a third bear sanctuary in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. WSOS has just rescued fifteen dancing bears that will be cared for at the new facility in central India.

Says Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS: "We are now seeing an exciting breakthrough in our campaign to free the bears. As well as the two sanctuaries that we manage in the north and south of India, starting this third sanctuary proves to the authorities that we mean business and we’re determined to bring an end to the dancing bear trade. We’re also committed to building a new future for the Kalandar people who ‘dance’ them. Our campaign provides a solution for both animals and people."

"We have also seen a change in attitude amongst the Kalandars themselves. Only two weeks ago, bear poachers in the state of Uttar Pradesh tried to sell a young cub to a Kalandar community but the villagers refused to buy it because they knew it was against the law. There is no doubt that our multi-pronged approach of anti-poaching work, rescue and rehabilitation of bears on the streets, and concerted efforts to help people as well as animals, is paying dividends. I truly feel there is an end in sight and one day the streets of India will be free of captive bears being tortured for entertainment."

The Kalandars who have surrendered their bears to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department will receive rehabilitation assistance to find them alternative ways of earning a living and also to provide for the education, health care and other needs of their families.

The bears were surrendered to the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department over a period of three days in groups of seven, three and five animals. The seven females and eight males are now at the Van Vihar Bear Rescue Facility in Bhopal and being cared for by an expert team from Wildlife SOS. The animals suffer from health problems such as tumours and tuberculosis; problems of malnutrition and dehydration; cataracts and opacity of vision; muzzle injuries, maggot wounds and ulceration in the mouth; with severely broken teeth. The bears are under observation in two large quarantine enclosures complete with lush vegetation and freshwater ponds. A WSOS vet is overseeing their care and ensuring they receive a nutritious diet with added vitamins and medication where required.

The rescue of the bears and the creation of the new facility demonstrate the tremendous support that is being given to the project by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department under the guidance of the Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Gangopadhyaya. It is thanks to them that the bears are now spared further suffering and can look forward to being treated with kindness and compassion.