Meet Raju, last of India’s 628 dancing bears who was rescued as part of Dancing Bear Rehabilitation Project by Wildlife SOS, an animal protection organisation, in 2009.
The practice of dancing bears was made illegal in India when Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 came into effect. But it wasn’t until 2002 when Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Facility opened its doors to six bears confiscated near the city. Gradually, the organisation opened rescue centres in Agra, Bannerghatta, Bhopal and West Bengal.
The last dancing bear– ‘Raju’ was rescued from Chikka Haravalli in 2009. During its 8 years of captivity by the members of Kalandar community, a nomadic tribe which earned its living by taming sloth bears, Raju had been tortured using brutal techniques.
Seven years later, all of Raju’s wounds have healed and he comfortably resides in Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre.