Comedian Bill Bailey has joined forces with International Animal Rescue in an appeal to help end the suffering of dancing bears on the streets of India.

The cubs are snatched from their mothers in the wild when they are only weeks old. They are sold to nomads who train them to "dance" with brute force.

To protect himself, the bear's handler knocks out the cub's teeth and rips out the claws.

Worst of all, a red-hot poker is forced through the bear's nostril and out through the top of the snout. A rope is threaded through the wound and it is by pulling this rope that the handler makes his bear "dance". In reality the bear is writhing in pain as the rope rubs the raw wound.

International Animal Rescue has set up sanctuaries in India to care for rescued bears, but it desperately needs further funding to provide extra land and facilities for the damaged animals. In the past four years we have rescued nearly 400 bears, but it is estimated there may still be several hundred on the streets.

Bill witnessed the suffering of the bears when he visited India. He subsequently agreed to become our patron.

In a 60-second film he presents a personal appeal to end the cruelty of the dancing bear trade. The film was intended primarily as an online appeal because cinema and television advertising is simply beyond our budget. So we were delighted when Kevin Markwick agreed to support our campaign by launching the film in The Picture House in Uckfield. No doubt audiences will be very moved when they see it.

Although the footage is harrowing, we hope people will react positively to it when they realise they really can make a difference to the lives of these bears and help us put a permanent end to their suffering.

We would like to thank Bill Bailey for giving up his time to film the appeal, Broad Grin Productions for keeping their costs as low as possible, and Kevin Markwick for so generously agreeing to show the film. Their support could mean an end to the suffering of all the bears that remain on India's streets.

The film can be seen on our website at If you want to help end the suffering of the dancing bears you can give donations via our website or by phoning us on 01825 767688.

  • Carrie Colliss, development director, International Animal Rescue, Regency Close, Uckfield