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Dancing bear

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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Dancing bear

A dancing bear in St George's Place c 1895. Crowds of children have gathered to watch the performance.

For centuries, travelling performers displayed dancing bears at busy places such as fairs, markets and holiday resorts. The bear usually had a thick iron ring forced through its nose which caused considerable pain when yanked, and the bear "danced" while trying to avoid the pain. This bear appears to be wearing a muzzle, probably a sensible precaution on its owner's part as an animal in pain and distress might otherwise have tried to bite him.

The exhibition of dancing bears was forbidden in Britain in 1911.

Reference: 1260.77.671

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

Keywords:
children, cruelty to animals, dancing bears, street entertainment, street performers



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