Despite the cheery sounding name, dancing bears are abused animals. They are often taken from their mother at a very young age and reared by their captors with one aim; to make them money.
One of the most common bears to be captured for this purpose across Asia is the sloth bear. The sloth bear can measure up to 1.9 metres and weigh up to 140g. Despite their weight and height they have a teddy bear look due to their long, shaggy coat and white U shaped marking on its chest. Sloth bears are nocturnal by nature.
It is particularly heartbreaking when the mothers and cubs are seperated as there is a strong bond between them, with sloth bears being the only bear to carry its cubs on its back. The cubs stay with their mother for up to three years.
The sloth bear is classed as a vulnerable species and there is thought to be less than 10,000 left.
Although dancing bears have been banned in India for over 40 years it is thought that there are still around 600 on the streets.
Dancing bears are reared and 'tamed' with a cruel hand and their treatment includes having holes burnt through their noses through which a rope can be threaded, regular beatings, removal of their teeth and claws and being forced to stand on hotplates to make them dance.
International Animal Rescue, supported by the Born Free Foundation, are working to rescue dancing bears and take them to their bear sanctury in Bannerghatta. Here a clinic is also being built where vets can help the rescued bears.