After playing a pivotal role in ending the barbaric practice of dancing bears in India, a Sussex charity is now planning to come to the aid of dozens of suffering bears in Armenia.
International Animal Rescue (IAR), based in Uckfield, has revealed the shocking conditions of squalor and neglect in which bears are being kept in restaurants, factories and bus depots all across Armenia. The bears are used to attract tourists or for the idle entertainment of their ‘owners.’
In August this year IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight travelled to Armenia on a fact-finding mission. He says: “I have seen for myself the conditions these bears are living in and they are nothing short of appalling. Some have been living for years in cramped, barren cages, surviving only on scraps and filthy, stagnant water.
“Many of them relieve their boredom and frustration by pacing endlessly to and fro, banging their heads against the walls or climbing up the bars, searching frantically for an escape route. These beautiful creatures have been robbed of their dignity and their freedom. It is absolutely sickening.”
International Animal Rescue is determined to put an end to this cruelty. This week it is launching The Great Bear Rescue to come to the aid of suffering bears in Armenia and give them the life and the freedom they deserve. Work has been underway for some months now building a sanctuary for the bears which would also provide a permanent home for those that can never return to the wild. Each rescued bear will undergo careful assessment, veterinary treatment and rehabilitation before its future is finally determined.
Two celebrity supporters of the campaign are actors and IAR patrons Neil Morrissey and Peter Egan. The latter has provided the voice-over for an advert for The Great Bear Rescue running on local radio for the next two weeks.
Neil Morrissey comments: “I’m a relative newcomer to the work of International Animal Rescue but I’ve already learned that this is a group that delivers on its promise. Now that the plight of these poor bears has come to light, I know IAR won’t turn its back on them. I’m with them all the way on this rescue mission. After years of misery and neglect, an end to the bears’ suffering can’t come soon enough.”
Alan Knight will be returning to Armenia on 30 October to participate in the first rescue operations. To find out more about the campaign, visit www.greatbearrescue.org