Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kartick Satyanarayan: How we rescued the "dancing" bears

By Joe A.

You are probably asking yourself the exact same question i asked, what are the dancing bears? Dancing bears are part of a barbaric act in which bears are beaten and forced to 'dance' for tourists. They spend their entire life on a four foot rope that is attached through a piercing in their nose. They are dragged from town to town to financially support their owner.

Kartick Satyanarayan discusses the issue of dancing bears in India. Dancing bears are bears that are beaten and tortured to perform for tourist. The bears are stolen from their mothers at a very young age and usually sold on the black market. Once they have fully developed, their teeth are knocked out and a metal wire is pierced through their muzzle for the rope to be inserted through. The rope is used for the owner to maintain control of the animal and punish by a quick tug. The bears are then dragged from town to town, and beaten to perform for tourists. Tourists can get a quick chuckle out of the "dance" and then give the owners some money. This seems like a very barbaric tradition but this is the only source of income for many families. Kartick knew that they could not simply just take the bears away from the families. He proposed and implemented a few options for the families such as helping them start up shops, bike repair centers, or even jobs at local tourist spots in exchange for custody of the bear. At first they were concerned about the outcome but after the first exchanges they knew that the idea was an excellent one. They opened up a bear sanctuary where the bears were inspected by veterinarians then released into the wildlife sanctuary for recovering animals. Within eleven years they have put a complete stop to the act of dancing bears and have helped over 400 families and bears with new hope for the future.

When I first watched the talk I was quite amazed by the way one man's thinking could help so many people and bears. Kartick could have just simply called law enforcement to take the bears out of the owners' possession but that would have lead to many families with no source of income. He had to compromise with many owners by proposing new career options for the owners to support their families. After Kartick was done, the owners were better off than when they had the bear because they had a more stable sources of income while not abusing animals. I think that Kartick has accomplished a lot for he has completely eliminated the dancing bears and replaced them with better sources of income for the people of India. Some people could argue that the act of the dancing bears is a tradition and that they are stealing the tradition from the people when they take the bears away, but I believe that it is for the better that they take the bears away so they can live a better life. Kartick was not overly persuasive but he got his point across quite nicely.

Dancing bears is a very cruel and barbaric act that Kartick has been able to eradicate in India. He replaced many bears with new careers and new hope for bears and families alike. I would like to see if he could extend this idea to other forms of animal cruelty and if he could save more species of animals. I would like to see if he could use this same method to eliminate other cruel acts such as puppy mills or shark finning. I am actually amazed that one man has been able to accomplish as much as he has and am excited to see what the future holds for Kartick

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