A bizarre and vicious form of animal cruelty promoted as entertainment in Nepal has hopefully come to an end.
For years, people in Nepal have captured sloth bears, owning them illegally and forcing them to dance for crowds of tourists. The country outlawed the practice a long time ago, but some still chose to take the risk of abducting a sloth bear and torturing the innocent animal so it would dance for an audience.
Now it appears this despicable chapter in the history of animal entertainment is over. The joint rescue effort in December saved 19-year-old Rangila and 17-year-old Sridevi, the last two known Nepali “dancing bears.”
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Like the other animals that have been forced into this practice, Rangila and Sridevi were stolen from their mother at a young age and sold to a vicious master — who pierced their noses with a hot iron and then strung a rope through the hole to control the animals. All their lives, the bears were beaten and abused to keep them submissive. Finally, they can experience freedom.
The bears were located using phone tracking by local police in Iharbati, Nepal. From there, World Animal Protection and the Jane Goddall Institute launched an emotional, dramatic and successful rescue mission.
“We are thrilled that the last two known Nepali dancing bears have been rescued from their lifetime of suffering. After a year of tracking them, using our own intelligence and in cooperation with local police, our hard effort and dedication has helped to bring an end to this illegal tradition in Nepal,” Manoj Gautam of Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal said in a statement.
Unfortunately, after years of inhumane care, Rangila and Sridevi show signs of psychological trauma and are still extremely distressed. All involved in this rescue hope they can ease some of this pain. The bears are currently under the care of the Amlekhgunj Forest and Wildlife Reserve. Here, they have room to roam, explore and relax, and no one asks anything of the pair.
“Rangira and Sridvevi have suffered for too long in captivity since they were poached from the wild. It’s extremely distressing to see animals being stolen from the wild, and the sad reality is there are more wild animals suffering across the world, purely for the entertainment of tourists. I am pleased that for these two sloth bears at least, a happy ending is finally in sight,” Neil D’Cruze of World Animal Protection said in a statement about the rescue.
Now that “bear dancing” has been eradicated from Nepal, World Animal Protection and others are working to end the practice in Pakistan next.