The Last Dancelooks at how the barbaric practice of dancing bears worked and how a coalition of animal charities set about bringing it to an end and rescuing every bear off the streets of India. The book exposes the terrible suffering the bears endured to make them dance. Compelling photos show bears being surrendered and the ropes being cut to set them free. The book describes the process of negotiation with the Kalandar gypsies and explains how they were persuaded to give up their bears and accept alternative livelihood training. The three groups share the belief that animal welfare and human welfare go hand in hand and so wanted to ensure that the people’s needs were also met. No bears were bought – their lives were traded in exchange for training the Kalandar gypsies in another profession.
The Last Dance takes you inside the sanctuaries in Agra, Bhopal and Bannerghatta where the bears have been released and now enjoy a peaceful, contented retirement. They receive expert veterinary care to restore them to full health, including treatment for their torn noses and infected muzzles. Specialist dental treatment is given to repair their broken teeth and end the agony of inflamed abscesses. Finally, on 18 Dec 2009 the reader sees Raju, the last dancing bear, walking up the stony road to the bear sanctuary in the Bannerghatta Biological Park near Bangalore, Southern India. Alan Knight, Kartick Satyanarayan and Mary Hutton, founder of Free the Bears, are waiting at the gates to welcome him.