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22 of the 25 originally registered dancing bears in Bulgaria have already been rescued. 20 have found a specially designed home: the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa, founded in 2000 by FOUR PAWS. Although the training of these animals to become dancing bears has been prohibited in the country since 1998, there are still three registered dancing bears held in captivity. Hopefully they will find their new home in the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa in the near future. FOUR PAWS also knows about the existence of 37 additional Bears, which are currently being kept in private homes.

© FOUR PAWS International/Cher

The background - how does a bear become a dancing bear?

Young bears are captured in the wild, separated from their mothers, and taught by a trainer to become dancing bears in conditions of unimaginable cruelty. The young animals are forced onto sheets of glowing hot metal and, in order to escape the pain, the bears alternately lift up one paw and then another while a musical tune plays along. The process is repeated again and again until the animals automatically begin to raise their paws - to "dance" - in fear of the pain, even without the hot metal sheets.


As the bears begin to grow the trainers can no longer make them obey without inflicting pain, so rings are put through their highly sensitive noses and chaps. Then chains are attached to the rings so that the trainers can control the animals, which weigh up to 350 kilograms, with only a slight tug on the chains.

For the trainers' safety, the animals' claws (through which blood flows) are trimmed several times a year. Without anaesthetic the pain is unimaginable, comparable to cutting off a human being's fingertips.

Bad food consisting mainly of white bread, sugar and schnapps along with poor shelter, are often the cause of additional, sometimes very serious, health problems for the animals.