A 13-year-old male bear is resting in Bhopal after undergoing a unique dental surgery.
Dentists and veterinary experts from the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and NGO Wildlife SOS teamed up to perform the surgery at the People's Dental Academy.
"The dental tumour removal surgery performed on the sloth bear is the first of its kind in the history of veterinary treatment in Madhya Pradesh," an SOS spokesman said.
The bear, Fido, was one of the 17 rescued dancing bears rehabilitated at the Van Vihar rescue facility.
The operation, which lasted two hours, led to the surgical removal of a tumour of 2.5-inch diameter from the animal's left upper jaw.
The X-rays taken before the surgery indicated that the tumour was caused by unevenly and partially broken canine left behind by his former handler.
"All teeth remnants have been carefully removed and the wound has been sutured," said JS Chauhan, the Van Vihar field director.
The bear has been shifted to the post-surgery area of the Van Vihar centre.
Atul Gupta, dean of People's Dental Academy where the surgery was conducted, said: "This is the first time a dental hospital for humans has been involved in the treatment of wild animals. It was a unique and very satisfying experience for all my staff."
Sloth bears are captured by poachers and sold to members of the Kalandar nomadic community who use them as dancing bears. The latter use cruel techniques like thrusting a red-hot needle through their snout to insert a coarse rope through it to make the animal dance and entertain tourists. The teeth are also smashed to ensure they do not hurt anyone.
The use of dancing bears was banned in 1972 under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act but the practice still continues illegally.
To protect the animals from brutality, Wildlife SOS runs four bear rescue centres in the country. The organisation has so far helped forest officials in rescuing 395 bears.
As part of the Bear Rescue and Kalandar Rehabilitation Programme run by Wildlife SOS, Kalandars are encouraged to take up alternative livelihoods as a sustainable measure of community rehabilitation.