Sponsored bike ride raises funds for IAR
A sponsored bike ride took place on 13 September in Norwich to raise money to help IAR's campaign to rescue and rehabilitate the dancing bears in India. The 20 mile ride along Marriotts Way was organised by Francesca Smith from Norwich who, along with parents Colin and Susan, support East Sussex charity International Animal Rescue. IAR rescues dancing bears off the streets in India and gives them a permanent loving home in sanctuaries in the north and south of the country.
Colin and Susan became supporters of International Animal Rescue after visiting India and seeing for themselves the suffering and abuse endured by the dancing bears. On returning home they were keen to find a way of helping the bears from the UK and came across IAR on the internet. Since then they have become enthusiastic supporters of the charity, regularly organising events to raise funds for IAR’s work to help the bears. This year daughter Francesca joined forces with them. Also taking part was her boyfriend Chris who cycled dressed in a bear costume!
Francesca said: "My parents are ardent animal lovers and have raised several thousand pounds for International Animal Rescue and the bears. Last year they visited IAR’s sanctuary in Agra and saw for themselves the transformation in the bears once they had been rescued from the streets. In the past five years IAR and their Indian partners Wildlife SOS have rescued nearly 500 bears and provided them with a safe haven for the rest of their lives. International Animal Rescue needs all the help it can get to fund this project and my family is really pleased to be supporting it in this way."
Lis Key, Communications Manager at IAR, said: "We’re so grateful to Francesca for organising the sponsored bike ride and of course to Colin, Susan, Chris and everyone else who took part. We rely entirely on donations from the public to fund our rescue work and it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of committed supporters like the Smiths.
"Sloth bears in India suffer terrible cruelty and abuse when they are forced to ‘dance’ for tourists. Thankfully we are providing a solution that saves the bears and provides rehabilitation for their handlers too who are some of the poorest people in India. With the help of supporters like Colin and Susan, Francesca and Chris, it won’t be too long before we rescue the remaining 200 bears and put an end to this barbaric practice for good."