They were torn from their moms when they were just cubs and "trained" by being forced to stand on burning hot metal until they lifted up their paws, making it look like they were dancing. They had holes pierced through their noses and chains threaded through the holes so that they could be controlled when they performed.
They forgot so many of their natural instincts. They were fed garbage and became severely malnourished. They even forgot how to hibernate in winter.
In the 1990s, the sad plight of these bears started to gain international attention, and over the course of many years, Four Paws International, with the help of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, managed to save all the remaining dancing bears throughout Bulgaria and bring them to sanctuary. The practice is now illegal.