The practices of bear-baiting, dancing, zoos and circus performances have a long history and are considered traditional in many countries. As with most animals in entertainment, bears are taken from their mothers when very young cubs. They are ‘disabled’ by the removal of their canine teeth and claws. Hot wires are often used to pierce holes in their muzzles so a ring can be inserted, which is attached to a rope or chain that is used to control the bear.
Bears are baited by being tied up and set upon by specially trained dogs and forced to fight for their lives, in front of audiences. Dancing bears are trained by being stood on a platform with burning logs underneath; as the fire gets hotter the bears are forced to ‘dance’ to avoid being burnt. These animals, along with their cousins in circuses and some zoos, are kept in unsuitable conditions, with inadequate food and water, have no access to veterinary assistance and usually live under the threat of violence to ensure submission and performance. Unfortunately, these practices have not yet been consigned to history and still continue in Nepal, Vietnam, Serbia, Europe and the USA. It is possible to support the rehabilitation of these bears by visiting ethical sanctuaries where many rescued bears are retired to and will live out their days in peace.
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