Rescued bear celebrates 10 years of freedom

Raju is the last-known Indian dancing bear to be rescued. Picture: Free the Bears
Raju is the last-known Indian dancing bear to be rescued. Picture: Free the Bears

A MILESTONE celebration is underway to mark a rescued bear’s 10 years of freedom from abuse on the streets of India.

The practice of torturing sloth bears and forcing them to dance was made illegal in India in 1972 but still continued for decades.

Karrinyup animal activist Mary Hutton (80) was there when Raju was rescued and released to the sanctuary at Bannerghatta National Park in India on December 8, 2009.

“It was the rescue of the last known dancing bear in all states of India,” she said.

Free the Bears founder Mary Hutton and Raju moments before Raju’s freedom. Picture: Free the Bears.

“Raju was the last bear, he came up on the long gravel driveway.

“He’s doing very well in the sanctuary, he has honey everyday and spoiled rotten.”

For the 10th anniversary of Raju’s rescue and release, Free the Bears is holding a Dinner and Bollywood Dancing night in Wembley this Saturday.

Dr Hutton at the Cambodian Bear Sanctuary with a sun bear cub, Hope. Picture: Free the Bears

Dr Hutton started Free the Bears Fund in 1993 and said one moment she won’t forget was the rescue of golden bear Bertha and her son Dave.

“We dragged Bertha’s cage to the edge of the door, she just didn’t know what to do so she slowly edged away to the opening and stepped on the grass to the sanctuary,” she said.

“She made movement with her paws and we realised then she’s never seen grass before, she’s been in the cage for seven years.”

Dr Hutton and Wildlife SOS co-founder Geeta Seshamani removing the nose ring from a rescued dancing bear. Picture: Free the Bears

Free the Bears has set up bear sanctuaries in Cambodia, India, Laos and Vietnam and released six bears to Perth Zoo to date.

“Three sun bears came from being rescued from restaurant trade in 1998 in Cambodia,” she said.

“This is what it’s all about, trying to get the numbers for the species for these bears.”

A Free the Bears rescue team has launched an emergency rescue of four bear cubs in the northern Laos mountains recently.

“There are many species of bears on there whose lives are on the brink,” Dr Hutton said.


WHAT: Dinner and Bollywood Dancing for Raju!

WHERE: Fusion6 Indian Restaurant and Function Centre, 230 Cambridge Street, Wembley

WHEN: Saturday, August 24 at 6pm

TICKETS: $60 for all-you-can-eat Indian buffet and entertainment, visit or call 9244 1096

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