Rangila, 19, one of the last dancing sloth bears, died, after recently being rescued by an animal rights group, due to negligent care in a zoo near Kathmandu, Nepal.
19-year-old sloth bear Rangila, stands in an enclosure at the Kathmandu zoo in the Nepali capital Kathmandu on March 21, 2018.
Dancing bears are used as entertainment.
Last December, two sloth dancing bears were rescued from South Nepal from ‘itinerant street performers’ who were using the bears as part of their entertainment performance.
After the rescue, Rangila, and a 17-year-old female, Sridevi, were taken to a zoo nearby Kathmandu and were locked in cages for display. A few weeks later, the female bear, Sridevi, died too.
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The person who rescued them, Niraj Gautam of Jane Goodall Institute Nepal said, “(We) were told that she had some problem in her liver and that it was jaundice.”
The dancing bears should have been given extra care and medical attention.
Gautham also stated that the dancing bears deserved extra care and medical attention after the vicious and cruel street performances. He said, “These animals should have been thoroughly checked. There was nothing. That’s the negligence we want to point out.”
The cages were too small and untidy for the bears to live in. Gautham stated that the dancing bears showed “signs of distress” after not being treated and maintained well enough.
Bears are subject to cruelty by street performers.
These sloth dancing bears are part of an age-old tradition, going back to the 1200s.
The deputy director of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Gopal Prasad Bhattarai, defended the department of care-takers and stated, “There are legal hurdles in transferring the animal to another country and the zoo is the only facility we have, (and) the zoo is giving the best care they (are) capable of (giving) to the bear.”
Jane Goodall Institute and the World Animal Protection rights group are pressurizing the government of Nepal to transfer the remaining dancing bear to India where the tradition and usage of using animals, especially bears, was “stamped out” in 2012.
In 1973, the usage and tradition of using dancing bears as street entertainment performance were banned in Nepal and a year later, in India.
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Activists are looking to transfer the last dancing bear, the 17-year-old female Sridevi, to India.
The tradition lingered on and dancing bears were, continuously, used as part of entertainment purposes. The bears are forcefully trained at a very young age with a heated rod pierced in their snouts so they can be controlled by a rope or a chain.
Dating back to the 1200s, dancing bears were part of an age-old tradition, where the Muslim Qalandar tribesmen trained them to dance and perform in front of the rich and elite.
Dancing bears are on the list of endangered species
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, sloth dancing bears have reduced in numbers because of being on the list of endangered species. They can only be found in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.