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Inside a blind bear’s horrific plight as he is tied up, muzzled and forced to fight

There are around 120 bears used for entertainment in Pakistan (where they are forced to perform dances), and around 15 for baiting (where teeth are broken, claws removed , permanently muzzled , and trained for fights).

DAVE BURKE: ‘In his final days of captivity, tethered black bear Playful Pooh was unable to see the cruel gang responsible for his horrific plight. Forced to live with a muzzle on his face for most of his 10 years, he lost sight in both eyes after being made to fight. The Asiatic black bear’s “owners” regularly pitted him in vicious brawls with dogs, leaving him with permanent and painful injuries. It was only when authorities got wind of an illegal bear-baiting event involving Pooh and 11 other bears that his nightmare finally came to an end. Now, four years later, he is being cared for at a sanctuary – but keepers fear he will never recover from the physical and mental trauma he endured.

Animal rights groups are calling for bear-baiting to be wiped out, with dozens of animals in Pooh’s native Pakistan feared to still be involved in the violent blood sport. Little is known about how Pooh fell into the hands of bear-baiters, but campaigners say animals are usually captured as cubs after poachers kill their mums. It was not until his rescue in 2015 that he finally had his muzzle removed and he was able to move freely. “He’s a traumatised bear,” Marie Chambers, said wildlife campaigns manager at World Animal Protection… Marie believes Pooh lost his sight either in a fight with a dog or due to vicious treatment by his captors. “He wasn’t born blind,” she said…

During these traumatising fights, a bear is tied by its neck, restricting its movement. It is then set on by a dog. “It has no way to escape,” she said. “The fights go on for three minutes and the bears’ injuries are rarely treated properly. “They don’t have sharp teeth or claws because these are normally removed when they are clubs”… Marie estimates there are around 120 bears used for entertainment purposes in Pakistan – with the majority forced to perform dances, and around 15 being baited. Their teeth are broken, their claws are removed and they are permanently muzzled as they undergo “training” for fights, which attract large crowds. She said: “They don’t have a life”…

Pooh was saved during a police raid in January 2015, in the desert close to Pakistan’s border with India. Now he lives in the Balkasar Sanctuary alongside other disabled bears, and staff are able to closely monitor his health and wellbeing. And Pooh has also struck up a friendship with another rescued bear, named Mori. Marie said: “He has a good life now, the team are very dedicated.” He has developed a taste for apples and roti, but it will never be safe to release him into the wild. “They can’t be released, all of them are missing claws and they’re missing teeth”.’  SOURCE…


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