Clad in a black outfit created by Bollywood designer Rocky S, model and actor Yana Gupta appears next to the tagline “Bears Are Not Item Numbers” in a new ad for PETA Dishoom, the youth division of PETA India. Shot by ace photographer Atul Kasbekar, the ad is part of the group’s continuing campaign to raise awareness of cruelty to bears that are used for entertainment.
Why is Yana so angry about cruelty to bears? “Dancing” bears are a common, but tragic sight in India. When they are just 1 year old, cubs have ropes forced through their noses without any painkillers. During this process, a group of people hold the cub down while a red-hot needle is forced through the squealing animal’s nose. A rope is then shoved into the piercing, which usually becomes infected. The wounds never heal and often become infested with maggots. When the ropes attached to the traumatised bears are tugged, the animals lift their legs and “dance”. Male cubs are castrated with a razor at a very young age, also without anesthesia or antibiotics. The animals’ canine teeth are also knocked out with a metal rod when they are 1 year old. Bears are trained through a regime of pain and starvation, and they rarely survive more than eight years, a third of their natural life expectancy.
“Bears are forced to ‘dance’ through a regimen of pain and suffering”, says Yana. “Do not patronise animal acts.”