The year 2009 was a landmark for the efforts to free bears from the cruel practice of dancing, which their owners – known as “kalandar”s – used to earn a living. Seven years ago, the non-profit organisation Wildlife SOS freed Raju, the last sloth bear still to be dancing. With his rescue, there were no more dancing bears in India.

Geeta Seshamani, co-founder & Secretary of Wildlife SOS said in a statement: “Till date we have rescued over 600 dancing bears. Our only objective is to give these animals a life of dignity and freedom they deserve.”

After his rescue, Raju spends his days at the organisation’s Bannerghatta Bear Centre, where he is fed properly, kept physically and mentally active, and, occasionally, even spoiled. Which is why, for the seventh anniversary of his freedom day, Raju was given a special treat.

A joint effort by the organisation with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the state forest departments ensured that the kalandar community were given alternative jobs.