Clad in a black pleather outfit created by Bollywood designer Rocky S, model and actor Yana Gupta appears next to the tagline “Bears Are Not Item Numbers” in an ad for petaDishoom. Shot by ace photographer Atul Kasbekar, the ad is part of PETA India’s continuing campaign to raise awareness of cruelty to bears who are used for entertainment.
Why is Yana so angry about cruelty to bears? “Dancing” bears are a common – but tragic – sight in India. When they are just 1 year old, cubs have ropes forced through their noses without being given any painkillers. During this process, a group of people hold the cub down while a red-hot needle is forced through the squealing animal’s nose. A rope is then shoved into the piercing, which usually becomes infected. The wounds never heal and often become infested with maggots. When the ropes attached to the traumatised bears are tugged, the animals lift their legs and “dance”. Male cubs are castrated with a razor at a very young age, also without anaesthetics or antibiotics. The animals’ canine teeth are also knocked out with a metal rod when they are 1 year old. Bears are trained through a regime of pain and starvation, and they rarely survive more than eight years – a third of their natural life expectancy.
Under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is illegal to capture and trade bears in India. However, this law is blatantly ignored, and bears can still be seen on the streets of India. Madaris make the bears dance for up to 12 hours a day. As a result of this cruel practice, the sloth bear species could soon become extinct.
In August 2003, PETA India helped rescue six bears who were being forced to beg on the streets of Mumbai. The bears were taken to a rescue centre outside Agra. PETA India was also instrumental in rescuing five more bears from madaris and taking the animals to rehabilitation centres.
“Bears are forced to ‘dance’ through a regimen of pain and suffering”, says Yana. “Do not patronise animal acts.”
Want to do your part to help “dancing” bears and all other animals? Sign up for the petaDishoom Street Team today!