Target: Environment Minister of India Jayanthi Natarajan
Goal: End the cruel practice of trapping and abusing sloth bear cubs for tourist entertainment in rural Indian villages
In villages across India, three to five-week-old sloth bear cubs are kidnapped from their mothers and forced to dance for tourists for up to 12 hours a day by their human captors. The cubs’ claws and teeth are brutally removed, a hole is drilled through their sensitive snout and a long rope is pulled through the hole with the aid of a red-hot iron needle. The bears’ abusers use this rope to force the cubs to stand on their hind legs and “dance” for passersby, who occasionally reward the performers with a few rupees. The sloth bear cubs’ wounds are purposely kept raw in order to help ensure their obedience during this cruel spectacle.
Officials estimate that more than 60 percent of the kidnapped sloth bear cubs do not even survive the trip to the villages and instead die due to dehydration and starvation. If the cubs do survive their traumatic journey, not only are they severely abused and humiliated daily, but since the toothless cubs cannot partake in their normal diet, they are limited to chapatis and lentils, which have been shown to cause life-threatening intestinal disorders in bears.
While sloth bears have a lifespan of up to 30 years in the wild, captive dancing bears rarely live past seven or eight years old. With an estimated 20,000 sloth bears currently living in the wilds of South Asia, shortening their life expectancy by more than 20 years could no doubt threaten their species and possibly lead to their extinction.
Although the Indian government has banned the use of sloth bears for entertainment, this inhumane activity is still fairly commonplace in rural areas with more than 1,200 cubs enduring this torture each year. Also, once a sloth bear has been kidnapped and tamed, it can never be returned to the wild. The bears can only hope to be rescued and transported to a nearby wildlife sanctuary.
Sloth bear dancing is an incredibly barbaric and cruel tradition that must end. By signing this petition, you will be telling government officials to enforce stricter laws that prevent the capture of sloth bears and encouraging the development of wildlife sanctuaries for rescued bears. We cannot let this abuse destroy the lives of innocent creatures.
Dear Minister Natarajan,
Each year more than 1,200 sloth bear cubs are kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and exploited by their human captors who force the bears to “dance” for area tourists. While I appreciate the steps that the Indian government has made to help protect sloth bears, stricter legislation must be created and enforced if we are to save this species from torture and possible extinction.
In the wild, sloth bears have a lifespan of up to 30 years. Dancing bears, however, rarely live more than seven or eight years in captivity. Since the young bears’ teeth are removed upon their arrival at the villages, the cubs are unable to consume their normal diet and are instead limited to chapatis and lentils, which have been shown to cause terminal intestinal disorders. With an estimated 20,000 sloth bears currently living in South Asia, shortening their life expectancy by more than 20 years could threaten the species and possibly lead to the sloth bears’ extinction.
Please do everything in your power to finally put an end to this barbaric tradition by establishing stricter legislation against the capture of bears, enforcing the laws already in place, and creating a wildlife sanctuary for rescued sloth bears.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo via Flickr