A dentist from Chichester has travelled over 6,000 miles to help former dancing bears in India who have had their teeth removed to make them more docile. Before training as a dentist Paul Cassar was always interested in wildlife and became a trustee of International Animal Rescue in order to combine his two interests.
Describing the experience in India, Paul said ‘It’s magical. Although there’s a lot of hard work involved – during my last trip we treated 23 bears in five days, spending at least five hours with every animal. Each trip lasts about 12 to 13 days, so the experience is extremely tiring, but definitely worthwhile.’
The bears that Paul works with had their teeth smashed with a hammer when they were only babies, to make them easier to control and stop the handlers from being bitten. The roots that were left in the sockets became infected and the bears are often left in a great deal of pain from their injuries.
He went on to say that ‘Seeing positive results is so motivating, as well as knowing that the treated bears are continuing to live long and happy lives in a safe environment.’
In addition to treating the animals, Paul and the IAR team provide training for veterinarians in the local area so that they can help keep the bears in good shape. He said ‘passing on these invaluable skills means that more animals will be able to receive the best possible dental care in the future.’